Pelotonia Student Captain Rides to Save Mother’s Life
21-year-old Blair Castle of Newark has had one goal since she was a little girl: to end cancer and save her mother’s life. Castle is the captain of The Ohio State University at Newark Student Pelotonia Team and has been watching her mother fight cancer since she was 10 years old. She participates in the yearly bike tour with Ohio State Newark’s peloton, Team Buckeye-Rolling for a Cure and campus fundraisers like this Thursday’s Dunk Tank and Corn Hole event as part of Welcome Week.
“My mom is the strongest person I know,” said Castle. “I felt helpless, and this Pelotonia bike tour is the way I can do something.”
Castle’s mother, Maureen Duggan, is 56 years old and has Lymphoma. Lymphoma is a form of cancer that affects the immune system - specifically, it is a cancer of immune cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
“I was a part of student government at Ohio State Newark, and we met with Dean/Director Dr. William L. MacDonald. He told us about Pelotonia and how he is very involved. Once I heard that there was a student captain position open, I knew I had to get involved. My first ride was amazing and my mother was waiting for me at the finish line. It was awesome.”
Pelotonia was founded in 2008, with one goal: to end cancer. The objective of the grassroots bike tour is to fund live-saving cancer research. Pelotonia is a three-day experience that includes a weekend of cycling, entertainment and volunteerism with a community of people coming together to chase down cancer and defeat it. This year’s event took place August 5 – 7. Pelotonia directs 100 percent of every dollar raised to cancer research at The Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James). Castle’s mother has received lifesaving treatment at OSUCCC – James that was funded directly by Pelotonia.
“My mom also has muscular dystrophy,” said Castle. “Normal cancer treatment like chemotherapy and radiation is not recommended when you have muscular dystrophy. However, my mother was able to take a pill form of chemo that was developed specifically for those with leukemia and lymphoma because it is a better option for those with muscular dystrophy. I recently learned Pelotonia funded the research grant for this pill. So, I know when I’m out there riding, I’m directly raising the funds that helped save my mother’s life.”
Before becoming involved in Pelotonia as a student at Ohio State Newark, Castle would participate yearly in the Licking County Relay for Life. Both Pelotonia and Relay for Life made Castle realize that she wanted to work for non-profits after college. The strategic communication major with a minor in engineering is now interning with Pelotonia in Columbus.
“I realized that this has now become a passion for me, and I want to use what I’ve learned in school to work with a non-profit like Pelotonia and help people in any way that I can,” said Castle. “I would like to work in non-profit public relations.”
Castle plans to stay involved with Ohio State Newark’s peloton despite the fact that she has transitioned to the Columbus campus to finish her degree.
“I spent two years at Ohio State Newark and loved it,” said Castle. “I loved the small campus, and all my professors knew me. If I could back, I would go back in a heartbeat.”