Unleashing the wide-ranging powers of generosity

Last month, VeloSano marked its 10th anniversary as 2,500 riders representing more than 100 corporate teams pedaled together for the simple but powerful cause of eradicating cancer. Motivating them were millions of dollars in donations from more than 30,000 supporters. Every cent they raised directly feeds the most innovative cancer research in the world happening at the Cleveland Clinic.

Cycling is a passion for me. And, like most people, I’ve had all-too-many personal experiences with cancer, losing friends and family members along the way. Turning my bike into a cancer-fighting weapon feels especially good. Founding and growing VeloSano with an exceptional partner in the Cleveland Clinic has been a joyous journey.

The results have exceeded my most hopeful expectations. The decade of VeloSano has generated more than $40 million in direct contributions, with promising projects gaining further funding from the National Institutes of Health for a total impact of about $85 million. That money has already helped save and extend lives through new treatments, detection and cures for an incredibly complex disease. Gene therapy, faster detection, dozens of new treatments and much more exist today because VeloSano has become a movement.

VeloSano funding works like venture capital. It delivers money to great (and sometimes radical) ideas and research that might not otherwise have a chance to succeed. And speed is of the essence. None of the money goes to overhead, endowments, buildings or anything except research toward fast cures. Hence the name — VeloSano means “swift cure” in Latin. VeloSano has become a growing “ATM” of research funding, fueling the exceptional work at the Cleveland Clinic and other local laboratories.

Seeing this ride grow from an idea to become a true movement is one of my proudest accomplishments, but like all successes it took a huge, talented team to make it come to life. None of it happens without funding, and I’m especially grateful to our top corporate partners, the Cleveland Guardians and Jones Day, who’ve been with us since the start. And of course the millions of dollars raised by tens of thousands of riders over the years.

Together, we have turned VeloSano into a household name in Northeast Ohio, a brand that stands for lifesaving research but also camaraderie, fun and the deep meaning of an incredible cause. And the virtuous cycle of VeloSano — pun intended — is amazing. Sponsors can attach their names to a proven winner, riders can confidently fundraise knowing every dollar goes to research, and employers who field teams get a boost of more engagement and wellness for their workers. And it all fuels brilliant minds right in the community I’m proud to call home.

Better outcomes, better communities and better feelings. Those are a few reasons I’ve long believed in the transformative power of giving. And that giving does not need to be a grand gesture to deliver significant benefits. Whether you’re pedaling alongside other VeloSano riders, volunteering or donating to a great cause, giving spreads joy. Plenty of studies show that generosity improves moods, spreads happiness and can even extend one’s life. So boost your mood and find or create a cause that resonates with you. And if you want to do something even easier, just join our cancer-crushing movement as a rider, donor or volunteer. ●

Stewart Kohl is Co-CEO of The Riverside Company

Stewart Kohl

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