COLUMBUS (WCMH) —
The training is complete and cyclists were ready to roll off in Columbus for Pelotonia 2017.
Pelotonia is in its 9th year raising money for local cancer research. To date, the charity race has raised more than $140 million towards research.
This year, riders were able to raise over $14 million. Many of them committed to raise between $1,250 and $2,500 per person for cancer research.
More than 8,000 cyclists hit the streets, coming from 40 different states, and 10 different countries coming together to ride in honor of cancer survivors and those who battled hard but lost the fight.
GALLERY: Pelotonia 2017
GALLERY: Pelotonia 2017 x
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“I am a direct beneficiary of cancer research. I don’t think I would be here today without it,” said cancer survivor and rider, Amy Heath.
Amy Heath diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2014.
“I had found the lump when it was just a pea and I went to a doctor and she said it was nothing. And then by December, just a few months later it was almost stage four,” said Heath.
After spending days in the hospital and rounds of treatments, Heath is now three years cancer free.
“Now I am cancer free thanks to The James. We are actually are from Georgia but I came up here to get treatment.”
Riding in Pelotonia now for four straight years, she says this charity race was a huge part of her healing.
“It was really amazing to come back and ride as a survivor. I rode 50 miles the day after my last chemo treatment,” said Heath.
Thousands of others are riding for their loved ones who have too battled cancer.
“We are riding for our grandmother who passed away from ovarian cancer back in 2007,” said rider, Michael Strawser.
“Everything that Pelotonia does just has an impact on our heart and has really changed our lives forever,” said rider, Brian Strawser.
Pelotonia 2017 kicked off Friday afternoon with a special ceremony in the Arena District. Former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the crowd at the opening celebration.
“Hope. Hope when that diagnosis comes,” Biden said. “The fear of god run through you and you need, your family needs, a reason for hope.”
Biden, whose son Beau died from cancer in 2015, received an award for his involvement in cancer research.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman is riding in Pelotonia Saturday. The senator has been riding in the race every year since it started.