In the fashion industry, when someone is taking their job way too seriously, you often hear the phrase, "it's not brain surgery" or "it's not rocket science," and even, "it's not like we're curing cancer." And it's true, my job, as amazing as it is, often makes me question myself - am I doing enough? In May of this year, I had the opportunity to tour The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center -- Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC--James). It is one of the nation's premier cancer centers for the prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. I met the CEO, Dr. Michael Caligiuri and many other doctors and researchers who spend their days searching for a cure for this horrible disease. I imagined what it would be like to be making such a difference in the world -- it gives me chills just thinking about it! They are all incredibly inspiring to me. So I asked myself, what can I do to help?
Lucky for me, I work for a brand that is extremely dedicated to giving back to the community. Victoria's Secret is one of the biggest supporters of an amazing organization called Pelotonia, which is an annual bike ride that takes place in Columbus, Ohio. Each year, thousands of cyclists ride up to 180 miles in an effort to raise money for the OSUCCC-James. The goal is simple: End Cancer! After three years of participating in Supermodel Soul Cycle, which has raised over $500,000 through Soul Cycle spinning classes, this year I decided to participate in Pelotonia so that I could broaden my efforts to raise money for cancer research.
My ride is in memory of my Grandma Ellingson, who passed away 6 years ago from lung cancer. She was a kind, gentle and loving woman and as a kid, I used to love visiting my grandparents in Sequim, Washington. I have fond memories of hiking through the rain forests, eating my Grandma Ellingson's fresh lemon merengue pies and seeing the unconditional love she and my grandfather had for each other. Her passing was a difficult time for me and my family. I see my participation in Pelotonia as my chance to do my part; to give back and help those who are also affected by this horrible disease. I know my grandma will be smiling down on me.
Dr. Caligiuri says "we are making real progress on the frontiers of discovery, and together, we will realize our shared vision for a cancer- free world." Together is the key! As the saying goes," there is strength in numbers." On Saturday, August 9th, I imagine I will feel that strength as I ride 50 miles with thousands of other cyclists -- each inspired to do so for various reasons. Thanks to the number of people involved in Pelotonia, over $9 million dollars has been raised so far! This is just one of many ways to get involved. We should all ask ourselves what we can do to help. Whether it's a fund-raising bike ride or walk, writing a check or volunteering, there are many ways each of us can make a difference. I believe that the more we get involved with helping others, the better out own lives will become!