Race for the Cure
Fishers resident bikes 100 miles to honor mother’s memory
Writer / Jane VanOsdol
Photographer / Amy Payne
A life-changing event at the age of 12 set Kyle Vannoni on a path he continues to run. That year his mother, Peggy, lost her years-long battle with breast cancer. A few months later in October their hometown of Terre Haute held its first-ever Wabash Valley Race for the Cure. Vannoni’s father, Paul, suggested that he and Kyle run the race together.
Twenty-one years later, Kyle has not missed one race.
Their team has since grown to include about 80 members and is now called Team Peggy Vannoni/Judy Divine in honor of Peggy and her sister, who also died of breast cancer years later. As Kyle reached adulthood, he took over managing their team in place of his father.
Doing Something Big for Wabash Valley Race for the Cure
Although Vannoni now lives in Fishers, each year he travels back to Terre Haute for the race. He estimates he spends about four out of 12 months fundraising for his team.
“Indy Race for the Cure has lots of resources,” Vannoni says. “Terre Haute does not.”
This fact was driven home to him last year when a woman stopped him after he completed his race to thank him. She emotionally told him that she would not have been able to get her treatment without the help of people like Kyle. Komen funds from the Terre Haute race had helped pay for her diagnosis and treatment.
“At that point, I realized that next year I’ve got to come up with something big,” Vannoni says.
To reinvigorate the fundraising efforts for 2017, he decided to add a bicycling component to the fundraiser. He recruited six friends to go along, and the day before the race, they rode from Fishers to Terre Haute, a 100-mile ride.
He’s hoping to make the ride part of the official fundraising next year, too.
“We wanted to work out the kinks this year on the bike ride to really expand it next year,” he says.
He would like to attract sponsors and include a parade, local musicians and food trucks. He is unofficially calling it the “Tour de Komen.”
It appears to be working.
Last year was the most money he had raised to date — $6,300. Vannoni set a 2017 goal of $10,000 and has already exceeded that by more than $6,000. Team PeggyVannoni/JudyDevine is accepting donations through November 7. After that, contributions go into the general fund.
The Wabash Valley Race for the Cure has also turned into a yearly Vannoni reunion. All of Kyle’s family and friends gather together Saturday night after the race to enjoy good food, musicians, campfires and singing.
“I basically have a neighborhood family as well,” he says. “When my mom passed, all my friends’ moms played a role in helping raise me.”
Find Your Passion
Kyle encourages others to find their passion to be a force to make a difference. For him, fitness is a way he can continue fighting for his mother, and he acknowledges that his persistence comes from her.
“I think I get it all from her,” he says. “She was a fighter and never gave up. She was very family-oriented. My mom can’t fight anymore, but I can fight for her.”