What exactly is “Pedal It Out”? Simply put, it is a non-profit organization that began in 2012 that holds an annual bike ride to raise money to donate towards cancer research, specifically The Melanoma Research Foundation for the past 2 years. However, its culmination is much more than that.
It goes farther back to the year, 2009, when I decided at the age of 11, after just having lost a second grandparent to cancer, that I needed to DO something with my anger, frustration, and grieving due to cancer. When my grandfather moved in with us after being diagnosed with melanoma, I saw first-hand at an early age the devastating journey that cancer makes a person and his loved ones go through.
I decided to get on my bike with my Dad and ride to see what money I could raise. My first ride of 245 miles from Frostburg, MD to Washington, DC over 4 days was a success with $6,000 in donations going to the American Cancer Society. I knew we had found our escape to feeling like victims of cancer. Instead the ride gave us power to fight back. The first three rides were called, “Go, Alec, Go!" and changed a bit each year from trying more mileage and more days (Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC) to also trying a 100 mile Century ride in one day. Through some brutally cold weather and snow in November, on top of rugged terrain on the Great Allegheny Bike Trail, C&O bike path and W&OD trail, as well as sweltering heats in May, the riders have always made it to the end. At the same time, cancer kept right on our heels.
During these years, an aunt was lost to colon cancer and another grandfather to melanoma, so the fight only grew stronger. And with that, more friends have joined us on the path to ride. The decision was made to change the name of our ride to “Pedal It Out” and start a non-profit organization with the same name, to not only help the cause, but to also spread the word for other cancer-fighting causes, and really any other kind of grass-roots charities and support them, as well.
Pedal It Out has a Youth-lead Leadership Team made up of 9 young adults, ages 11-17 who collaborate to make this event even bigger by reaching out to the community to join. Aside from making a difference by raising funds, we want the event to be a place for anyone that knows someone fighting cancer or has lost someone to cancer, to feel united. And we also want to spread the word that any person of any age can make a difference. One of the sayings that we had on our very first ride, when we did not see another person for hours and the dust and the dirt and the miles just kept going and going, was "everything worth having is worth working hard for." That is what Pedal It Out is all about.
In summary, the struggles the bikers face in the physical and mental obstacles of the ride connect us in a way to the struggles that cancer patients must endure. There have been some wonderful and unusual experiences on these rides that will forever make for great stories to pass down. This group hopes that this ride will continue on throughout the years. To date, this endeavor has raised over $125,000.
Please join us in our fight!
Alec Souders and The Pedal It Out Team