Riding for Breast Cancer Research



Photography by David Long

Odds are someone you know has been affected by breast cancer. The statistics are startling: about 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, according to The American Cancer Society. 

Western & Southern Financial Group is trying to reduce those numbers by sponsoring and contributing to several fundraising efforts. Cancer has affected Western & Southern president and CEO John Barrett – his wife, Eileen, was diagnosed with breast cancer 16 years ago. 

“I was treated at the Barrett Cancer Center and am so thankful for the excellent care I received. UC has great medicine and incredible doctors and I want everyone to know about their capabilities,” says Eileen Barrett. 

The idea for Ride Cincinnati was born, fulfilling Eileen Barrett’s desire for an event that would directly benefit Cincinnatians while providing a unique, family-friendly activity. 

Dr. Harvey Harris founded Ride Cincinnati in 2007 with family and friends. The event is dedicated to the life of his wife, Marlene, who lost her battle with the disease and all those who have been affected by the disease. It’s the first cycling event to raise funds for breast cancer research in the Greater Cincinnati area. 

“Breast cancer research too often leaves town. Ride Cincinnati is a perfect example of Cincinnati supporting itself through money raised by Cincinnatians and those funds stay here,” says Eileen Barrett. She says the proceeds go directly to supporting pilot projects, typically the most difficult funding for researchers to secure. Pilot research allows the testing of new hypotheses, leading to innovative treatments in hopes of unveiling promising results. “So far we’ve raised more than $2 million to give researchers the ability to hire extra people or to test out-of-the-box trials,” says Eileen Barrett. 

As the title sponsor of Ride Cincinnati, Western & Southern encourages other businesses to get involved by attending the event or donating. “Our Corporate Team Challenge allows companies to compete for the most donations raised,” says Michael Laatsch, vice president of public relations and corporate communications at Western & Southern. “We recognize and award a trophy to the winning team as a fun way to support this vital cause.” 

In 2015, Ride Cincinnati’s 2,124 participants helped raise more than $345,000 for The Barrett Cancer Center. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, June 12. Riders can choose between eight- and 16- mile closed-road courses in Ohio or 26-, 45- and 63- mile routes in Kentucky that are not closed to traffic. Children ages 12 and under are welcome when accompanied by an adult. Those without bikes can still take part by renting aCincinnati Red Bike – overage fees will be waived for the Ride Cincinnati event as long as riders email britt.glenn@cincyredbike.org stating their participation. 

In addition to Ride Cincinnati, Western & Southern is committed to corporate citizenship through volunteerism, philanthropy and sponsorship. From title sponsorship of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s local Walk MS, to donating $1 million to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Africa exhibit, Western & Southern makes an impact on the quality of life for Cincinnatians. 

“Every event we support has an associated beneficiary to receive donations,” says Laatsch. Western & Southern has sponsored the Crib of the Nativity since 1939. Nativity visitors make donations to benefit The Salvation Army, which are matched 100 percent by the Western & Southern Financial Fund. Throughout the past 20 years, the live nativity scene at Krohn Conservatory has raised more than $200,000 to help needy children and the homeless in the Greater Cincinnati area.   

“At Western & Southern, we support events that are meaningful to the participants and that create a lasting contribution to the community,” says Laatsch.

Western & Southern’s efforts to fight cancer have recently reached new heights, with John Barrett’s challenge for the region to raise $100 million in the hopes of
Cincinnati receiving the National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation. The NCI title would allow patients to receive the best new cancer treatments close to home.

Western & Southern Financial Group is located at 400 Broadway Mail Station 90, Cincinnati, OH 45202. For more information, call 866.832.7719 or visit their website at www.westernsouthern.com. For more information about Ride Cincinnati, visit www.ridecincinnati.org.