Ashley Peeler never met her grandmother, but she’s dedicated to preserving her memory through fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Peeler’s grandmother, Norma Lea Clayton, died in 1952 at 32, when Peeler’s father was just 4 years old. Clayton had been diagnosed with Leukemia just six months prior to her death.
Now Peeler is on a mission to raise money for the society through triathlons, runs and biking events to help fund and further the research and treatment for Leukemia and Lymphoma.
“If any one of us were to be diagnosed today with one of these diseases, we would most likely benefit from this life-saving treatment and become a survivor,” Peeler said.
On Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, in Matthews, Peeler will be raising money to help fund her trip to the Viva Vegas Century Ride, where she and a group of teammates will ride 122 miles in Las Vegas on Sept. 22 to raise money for LLS. She’ll set up shop with a stationary bike at Dilworth Coffee on Matthews Station Street near the Matthews Alive! festival. Peeler said donations can be made directly online or via check made to LLS. All donations are tax deductible and Peeler said she will have receipts on hand.
Peeler said her goal of $2,650 to get to the Viva Vegas Century Ride is about 70 percent complete.
“I’ve got about $782 to go to meet the minimum required,” she said. “I am asking for donations to help me make this goal and trip a reality, and any amount large or small will help.”
For Peeler, Matthews Alive! was a great opportunity for a push to meet her goal a week before her fundraising deadline.
“I thought it was a great chance to raise some awareness for my cause,” she said. “I have spoken with the folks at Dilworth Coffee and I will be set up outside (the shop) on Monday morning in my TNT gear and on my bike to ride for donations. Many may be curious as to why I am just riding to ‘nowhere’ that morning, but I hope it encourages people to give and as I mentioned before, participate in a future event,” she said. “I’m sure the crazy girl on the bike for a few hours will be enough to have people wander over and talk to me. I plan to be there in the morning to coincide with the car show, probably 8 or 9 a.m. until noon, or until I make my goal.”
Peeler said it was the loss of the grandmother she never knew that inspired her.
“She passed away at the age of 32, and this year I turned 34, already outliving her by 2 years,” she said. “I feel as though her chances of survival would have been dramatically increased has she been diagnosed today with the advances in detection and treatments.”
Peeler is working with the LLS Team In Training program, which participates in runs and triathlons to raise funding, and hopes to raise awareness for the group while attempting to meet her monetary goal.
“I will have information on hand (on Labor Day), but mostly to share my story about my grandmother and how cancer truly touches everyone,” she said. “Often people have someone in their family battling a disease and don’t quite know how to honor them. Completing the triathlon and this goal of riding 122 miles is a small way that I can honor her memory while working to help current blood cancer patients and survivors. It may just inspire someone to do the same here in Matthews.”
Though originally from Winston-Salem, Peeler has lived in Matthews for the past five years and has been involved in the community by serving on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, leading the Matthews-Mint Hill Relay For Life, volunteering at town events, completing her MBA through Wingate University and she helped organize the Sandy Feet 5K in Matthews in May.
“Through all of these activities I have gained many friends and colleagues and when I am able, enjoy participating and promoting Matthews to my friends and neighbors,” she said. “I feel a sense of community here that we are lucky to have in Charlotte, where there is a constant stream of activities, events, causes and movements. My physical activity is also largely based in Matthews through a close group of cycling friends at Bicycles East and the many friends I have made at the Siskey YMCA.”
Peeler’s charity work also includes working for the American Cancer Society and Easter Seals in development and fundraising roles, organizing events to benefit the organizations.
But Peeler said her ultimate goal isn’t just fundraising, but to give hope to victims of cancer and their families.
“As with many who have lost a loved one to cancer, the promise of finding a cure and knowing that someone won’t have to live with the possibility of losing a loved one to a potentially curable disease was more than enough of a reason to get behind this agency.”
For more information on Peeler and her cause or to donate, visit http://pages.teamintraining.org and search for “Ashley Peeler.”