Estero Community Invited to Cycle for Cancer Care at January 25th Event!
Event organizers Urte Izdonaviciute and Carrie Bloemers
For many people, the holiday season is a time of giving, and the new year is a time to start fresh with new goals. Creating a healthier lifestyle is often top of the list, and why shouldn’t it be? Good health is important to everyone.
For years prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Healthy Lifestyle team at Lee Health hosted 5K events in south Lee County as a way to pair a fitness-based activity with a good cause – proceeds supported Golisano Children’s Hospital, health and wellness initiatives, and more.
During the height of the pandemic, the team got creative and hosted a virtual run to raise money for Covid-19 relief.
When the Peloton stationary bike trend hit the U.S. a few years ago, Caroline Bloemers, director of the Healthy Life Center, saw an opportunity to once again fuse fitness, fun and fundraising with Lee Health’s newest event, Pedal for a Purpose.
As the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Cancer Clinic at the Bonita Health Center was being built two years ago, Bloemers and her team got to work organizing Pedal for a Purpose; the inaugural event was Jan. 26, 2023.
“As the world changed, so did our vision. We were looking for a way to move forward,” said Bloemers. “It was just great timing with Lee Health and the expansion of our cancer care and services to partner with them and go for a spinning event.”
For the first Pedal for a Purpose, Bloemers and co-organizer Urte Izdonaviciute, personal health advocate at the Healthy Life Center, partnered with CycleBar South Fort Myers. CycleBar closed down their studio, hauled the heavy stationary bikes to Coconut Point and provided instructors to guide riders of every skill level.
“They showed up big for us,” said Bloemers. “We met a partner who was willing to really rock with us.”
Members of Lee Health, their families and people throughout the community can participate in Pedal for a Purpose. Each participant belongs to a pre-arranged team, and each member has a chance to ride the stationary bicycles – pedaling for as long (or short) as they want – to raise funds for both the Lee Health Cancer Institute and other health and wellness programs.
“One of our priorities at Lee Health Cancer Institute is health promotion and early detection of cancer,” said Deb Wilson, vice president of oncology services. “We are so proud that the Healthy Life Center supports us to raise awareness for cancer services with the Pedal for the Purpose event. The proceeds will be used to increase the quality of life of our cancer patients through nurse navigation, nutritional services and social support.”
Rod Nobrega_ Ben Wilson_ Joe Ryan_ Megan Kohan_ Caroline Bloemers_ Molly Grubbs_ Dorothy Taylor at Lee Health 5th Anniversary celebration in December
The atmosphere is energetic and exciting in the Lee Health Coconut Point solarium – with live music from a DJ and spectators cheering on their favorite team. Riders get creative with team costumes and names. This year’s event is open to the public, with donations encouraged, and is expected to be even bolder and better than the 2023 event, which included 27 teams.
This year, all of the cycles, again provided by CycleBar, have been claimed. There are over 40 teams with more than 300 riders, including Lee Health leaders like CEO Larry Antonucci, Chief Operating Officer Scott Nygaard and Chief Officer of Community-Based Care Kris Fay.
Suffolk Construction is the presenting sponsor and will kick off the event. Several other area businesses are sponsoring and participating, as well.
“Engaging with meaningful local organizations is incredibly important to us as an organization and core to our culture,” said Megan Kohan, business development manager at Suffolk Construction. “Suffolk is so pleased to support Lee Health and their mission to build healthier communities through innovative and compassionate care.”
Almost everyone has been impacted by cancer in one way or another, and it can leave a devastating impact.
“The shared sense of purpose and deep meaning that you experience during this event is so powerful,” said Joe Ryan, PT, DPT, MBA, system director at Lee Health Coconut Point. “When our friends or loved ones hear the words ‘you have cancer,’ it can feel so helpless, and often you wish there was something more you could do. This is that something. 100% of the money raised in this event goes directly to services for people living with cancer in our community.”
The 2nd Annual Pedal for a Purpose is from 5-9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25. Show up and show support by cheering on the teams. Visit leehealthfoundation.org/event/pedal-for-a-purpose for more information.