“Pela-thon” Turns Exercise into Encouragement for Healthcare Workers
In a world turned upside-down by COVID-19, exercise can be relief for some. Palo Alto residents Christie and Jon Callaghan decided to turn their own love of Peloton into a “Pela-thon” to support the care team at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) San Carlos center and one of their favorite local restaurants Coupa Café. In mid-April the challenge was on. Riders were encouraged to pick one of two rides and light up the leaderboard to support frontline healthcare workers. The Callaghans pledged to purchase one lunch from Coupa for every rider on the board. They were riding to honor close friend and PAMF physician Erika Drazan, M.D., as well as Kelly Look, M.D., a fellow PAMF pediatrician who has cared for their four sons. But their gratitude runs deep for all frontline workers and first responders during this pandemic.
“It was energizing and amazing to see the leaderboard light up with our local community of riders, ultimately 500 in all, sweating for a good cause,” says Christie. “We’ve made five lunch deliveries in all. Our family has been going to Coupa for years and it was special to pick-up and deliver the final lunches during a shift that Erika was working.”
Christie and Jon met Erika on spin bikes 15 years ago at a local gym that has since closed. Riders from there stayed in close contact and deeper friendships ensued. COVID-19 brought another point of intersection for Christie and Erika though. Christie’s 84-year-old father and 79-year-old mother both contracted coronavirus in the first half of March. She was only able to see them for the first time in May.
“During the entire time, I was checking with Erika trying to learn more about what to do for my parents, what to do as community members,” says Christie. “We saw all the preparations that Erika, and everyone at PAMF were going through, and Jon and I wanted to help.”
The idea for the ride was inspired by a similar event in New York. One of Christie’s sons attends NYU, so the family had been closely following the outbreak there. A fundraising ride for a nurse at one of the hardest hit hospitals in New York City set the idea in motion as something the Callaghans could do in California.
“The Pela-thon provided a mental break for those of us working at home, and allowed us to show our commitment to organizations we love, with a community of riders who all wanted to help,” concludes Christie. “This was a win for everyone.”
If you are interested in supporting PAMF’s COVID-19 response visit sutterhealth.org/pamf-giving.