CLEVELAND, Sept. 18, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Stewart Kohl has long been passionate about cycling and philanthropy, so it was natural to bring those things together. As Co-CEO of The Riverside Company, an $8.5 billion global private equity firm, Stewart Kohl has been able to build on a vision with VeloSano.
Latin for “swift cure,” VeloSano is a community-driven, year-round fundraising event supporting cancer research at Cleveland Clinic. Since its founding in 2014, it has raised more than $23 million to directly fund lifesaving cancer research. VeloSano has supported over 125 cancer research projects, and generated more than $22 million in additional, third-party grants have been received as a result of the promise shown by VeloSano-funded projects.
“Being on a bike is a magical, almost spiritual, experience,” said Kohl. “It connects you with the world around you and the beauty of nature, helps manage stress and we know that physical activity is a great way to stay healthy. When I began participating in charity rides in 1990s, it was love at first pedal stroke.”
VeloSano was originally inspired by the Pan-Mass Challenge. The Pan-Mass Challenge began in 1980 by Billy Star as a fundraising bike-a-thon to benefit the Dana-Farber Cancer and has grown to become the most-successful athletic fundraiser in the country.
“When I participated in my first Pan-Mass Challenge in 1998, I knew it was more than just a bike ride,” said Kohl. “The camaraderie, the appreciation from cancer patients, the inspirational stories from survivors. I decided that we absolutely had to have an event like this in Cleveland.”
Prior to joining The Riverside Company in 1993, Kohl was a vice president of Citicorp Venture Capital, Ltd., the private equity arm of Citibank and has balanced finance and philanthropy throughout his professional life, with a particular focus on Cleveland.
Kohl serves on the board of Oberlin College, the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, and the Board of Trustees of Cleveland Clinic as well as its Wellness Institute Leadership Board. He was inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence in 2009. He previously served as Co-Chair of the Building for Hope Capital Campaign of the Center for Families and Children. Giving back is part of his DNA.
Stewart Kohl joined the Board of Directors for the Cleveland Clinic in 2013. The Clinic had been looking to host a major fundraising event to benefit cancer research, including its acclaimed Taussig Cancer Center. The Clinic’s philanthropy team worked alongside Kohl to build an event in Cleveland similar to the Pan-Mass Challenge.
The Kohl Fund served as the founding donor and VeloSano rapidly attracted donors and participants from all over Northeastern Ohio. Sponsors like Jones Day, Adcom, Zack Bruell Events, Lexus, and even the beloved Cleveland Indians Major League baseball team have lent their support to this annual event.
“Riders choose from route options ranging from 10-200 miles,” said Kohl. “Each rider commits to raise a particular amount of money and 100 percent of the money raised is awarded directly to research by spring of the following year.”
VeloSano boasts an incredibly dedicated staff and many volunteers working to ensure that the event is a success.
“If people don’t have an amazing time, they won’t participate again, so we make sure it is amazing,” said Kohl. “The VeloSano team ensures that every small detail is covered, from the incredible food to finding the most energetic and inspired volunteers. They ensure absolutely everything is thought of and thought through, because we need repeat riders to keep building on our success.”
A big reason people return is because cancer is so personal for almost everyone.
“The weekend experience is powerfully transforming,” said Kohl. “We come together with one shared goal but there are thousands of unique stories – survivors, children and family members of survivors – cancer has touched so many lives in profound ways. Whether you are cycling five miles or going the full distance, we are all achieving something greater than the sum of our individual contributions. We are building a community and racing for a cure.”
At Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center is one of the world’s top research and treatment facilities, and VeloSano funding fuels research that might otherwise never happen.
This year’s VeloSano was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented both challenges and opportunities, Kohl said.
“The energy of an in-person event is spectacular, but being virtual means people can participate anywhere in the world and in whatever manner they choose – it has opened VeloSano to a whole new set of participants.”
VeloSano’s funds are needed now more than ever. “Cancer doesn’t slow down for a pandemic and neither does VeloSano,” said Stewart Kohl.
SOURCE The Riverside Company