VeloSano Goes Virtual

Photo: Andrew Wheeler

VeloSano (Latin for “swift cure”) is a year-round fundraiser benefiting cancer research at Cleveland Clinic. It has raised more than $24 million since its inception in 2014.

In the past, the initiative would feature a Bike to Cure weekend in July. Amid the pandemic, however, a gathering that  typically attracts more than 2,400 riders and 1,000 volunteers just wasn’t possible in 2020 — so VeloSano went virtual this year. Participants were able to take part from anywhere in the world, in any way they could. No bike? No problem. Whether they walked, swam, ran or even embroidered, the mission was the same: to provide critical funding for lifesaving cancer research. 

With a name like his, it makes sense that Andrew Wheeler (top image) would commit to “wheeling” 200 miles in one day to raise money in honor of his mother, Ann Orkin. She passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2019.

An avid cyclist, Wheeler not only rode the distance — he also raised more than $13,000. And because VeloSano was virtual, Wheeler was able to complete his ride in his home state of New Jersey.

“In many ways, this ride brought some closure to the passing of my mom for me,” he says. “I know
Ma was with me on this journey and provided the push up those final hills.”

Watch participants from around the world and Cleveland Clinic researchers talk about the impact of Virtual VeloSano.

I walked to honor the riders, the volunteers, the researchers and the patients, now and in the future, whose outcomes will be better, stronger and faster.

Tom Repko
Man wearing blue VeloSano shirt, a face mask and pink shorts, walking outside of First Energy stadium

Photo: Tom Repko

For the past five years, Tom Repko was a VeloSano volunteer, working the Bike & Bag Check. When the event went virtual, he sought a sense of normalcy on Bike to Cure weekend.

So Repko committed to spend an entire day, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., walking Mall B in downtown Cleveland (usually the main event hub during Bike to Cure weekend). His routes were planned with a purpose, including a “V” for VeloSano. All told, Repko walked more than 26 miles in temperatures that peaked at 90 degrees. He raised more than $600.

A man and a woman sitting outside, both holding a corgi, and another corgi is sitting in the grass in between them

Photo: Team Marcus the Corgi

Even four-legged friends got in on the virtual VeloSano action. Team Marcus the Corgi — which includes Sara Beis and her husband, retired oncology pharmacist Ron Smetana, as well as their dogs Marcus, Lola and Hollin — raised more than $1,000.

They walked in honor of friends who are battling cancer and in memory of family members lost to cancer. The team walked for Marcus, too. The champion Pembroke Welsh corgi is being treated for canine lymphoma.

“We know the challenge of this disease,” Beis says. “A cure for human cancer will translate into a cure for canine cancer.”