One of the coolest things about the 's Tour de Vaughn cycling event, according to Julie James, is the number of cancer survivors who show up to ride.
It's not just that, but they're participants of the Living Strong, Living Well program that's funded through the annual event. They've been through the program, and they're ready to give back, James said.
"Every person in my class is here today," said James, director of the Living Strong, Living Well program. "They all went out and got sponsors. They are finished their part of the program and they're raising money so that someone else can have their spot."
Living Strong, Living Well is a free 12-week rehabilitation program for those who have or have had cancer. It's funded by the annual Tour de Vaughn event (cyclists pay $25 to ride a stationary bike for a half hour).
The class meets two times a week at the YMCA for exercise, and a dietician from the also comes in to talk about healthy eating.
The family of started the event seven years ago after Prude died of prostate cancer. Prude was a cycling instructor at the North Canton YMCA.
"For seven years, his family is still here, raising money to help the YMCA," James said.
The same goes for for the family of John Cornell, a North Canton resident and graduate who died of nonsmoking lung and brain cancer in 2010. James said Cornell's family brought 25 people that day.
At the event, survivors are spotlighted as they share their stories, and cyclists pedal all around them. Jill Chang — a Perry Township resident and Living Strong, Living Well member — was one of those survivors. She said she attended Sunday to support her friends in the program.
"It's really helped me," she said. "At first I couldn't get on the treadmill for more than five minutes. I was weak. I was tired. I was out of breath. And just every week they encouraged me. … The trainers were like cheerleaders for us, spurring us on to do better, to do more."
Chang also advocated Sunday for those with Lynch Syndrome, a genetic disorder that predisposes a person to several cancers, and urged those at the event to look to Lynch Syndrome International on Facebook or LynchCancers.com.