Ava Hawkins is proof that no matter what age you are, you can make a difference.
Her participation in Pelotonia began in 2020 when activities moved online, and each Pelotonia participant was encouraged to create their own activity goals to raise money for cancer research. At 11 years old, Ava wanted to do something to support a cause that meant a lot to her family.
Olivia Hawkins, Ava’s mom, is a 2-time cancer Survivor and her dad Joe has ridden in Pelotonia since 2018. The family decided in 2020 to create a neighborhood ride to encourage families to come out and support cancer research. The adults rode longer routes, while the kids created a loop around the neighborhood. 4 laps around equaled 1 mile. And some kids completed as many as 30 miles!
Each kid who completed their goal received a certificate, as well as some fun Pelotonia swag. It was a great bonding experience for the community, especially during the pandemic.
Ava rode 15 miles that year and set her sights on a bigger goal for 2021: 100 miles.
“Any time she puts her mind into doing something, she puts her whole heart and soul into it,” Olivia says.
This year, the entire family joined the Peloton Stefanie’s Team of Hope. Joe signed up as a 100-mile Rider, while Olivia registered as a first-time Rider for the 35-mile route on Sunday.
And Ava – she signed up as a Challenger with that 100-mile goal at the top of her activity list!
Ava cheered on both parents at the Finish Line on the Saturday and Sunday of Ride Weekend, then started her own challenge the following Wednesday. Along with her dad and other family members, she completed 25 miles on local trails for four days straight.
“There were no shortcuts for Ava,” Joe says. “She was adamant that we do 25 miles each day. She really showed that when you set a goal the only thing standing in your way is yourself. And she didn’t stand in her own way.”
On Ava’s last day of riding, she joined the kids in her neighborhood for this year’s kids ride. It was a fun day with rest stops mimicking the beloved ones seen during Pelotonia Ride Weekend, t-shirts, certificates, and other prizes.
Ava enjoyed the whole experience, even though it was a challenge at times.
“It was fun but really tiring,” she says. “And it made me feel really proud of how much money I raised.”
The grand total for Ava’s fundraising efforts this year (so far) … Over $1,400! Olivia tracked Ava’s progress on social media and loved seeing the support of the community.
“I’m just so proud of her,” Olivia says with a huge smile across her face. “It wasn’t just about her riding 100 miles. I’m so proud of her for being 12 years old and becoming passionate about something that’s more than just her as a person. It’s about something bigger and giving back.”
Now, it’s time to look to next year. Ava is already making plans for a larger challenge to ride 500 miles over the course of a month. We can’t wait to see all that she accomplishes!