Following his eight-year career in the National Football League, former Colorado offensive lineman Tyler Polumbus needed a new challenge.
“I’ve got golf and hunting and fishing that I enjoy doing, but I really haven’t had to compete with myself on anything,” he said.
Then he discovered cycling and got excited about his first five-mile ride. From there, he got better and it became a passion. On Saturday, he’ll put himself through his toughest challenge yet in an effort to raise awareness for a cause close to his heart.
Pedal with Polumbus will take place on Saturday at Empower Field at Mile High, as he rides 100 miles to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer. Polumbus’ challenge – roughly 166 loops around the stadium – will take place about five months after he lost his mother, Nancy, to ovarian cancer in April.
“It really just started with wanting to do something to honor my mom,” said Polumbus, who played at CU from 2003-07 before an NFL career with five teams, including the Denver Broncos. “I had this newfound biking passion and I reached out to the Broncos and I asked, ‘Hey, can we do something crazy and could I use the stadium to host an event?’ It turned into me doing 100 miles around Empower Field.”
Pedal with Polumbus is the latest fundraising campaign for the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance. So far, Polumbus said, the campaign has raised $32,000, which will be used to help educate women on the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“It’s just such a deadly, lethal disease and watching my mom fight it for six years, it’s a brutal, brutal process,” said Polumbus, co-host of The Drive on 104.3 The Fan. “It’s so important that women find out what the symptoms are because they’re so common.”
Bloating and cramping are some of the early symptoms and many women often aren’t aware that something serious is wrong. Nancy had some of the subtle symptoms and by the time she went to the doctor and was diagnosed, her cancer was at stage IV.
Polumbus hopes his efforts can help other women beat the disease.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to help women beat ovarian cancer, but that takes money,” he said. “In order to create the kind of awareness that is needed, we need to raise a lot of money.”
While the 6-foot-8 Polumbus has lost about 60 pounds since his retirement after the 2015 season, he said Saturday’s ride will still be a big challenge, especially since his longest ride to date is about 60 miles.
“This is going to be a big test for me,” said Polumbus, who helped the Broncos win Super Bowl 50 in his last game. “Something feels right about putting myself through a little bit of a physical challenge in order to create awareness for something that women have suffered so much through. I’m happy to put myself through a little bit of a physical challenge in order to create awareness.”
Because of COVID-19 precautions, the public is not invited to attend the event.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and it is estimated more than 22,000 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States this year. According to the Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance (COCA), there is a five-year survival rate of 93 percent for those diagnosed with stage I ovarian cancer, but over 80 percent are diagnosed in late stages, when the survival rate is only 44 percent.
The COCA promotes awareness and early detection, as well as providing support to those affected. For more information, or to donate, visit www.colo-ovariancancer.org.