Columbus, Ohio–Rockbridge hosted the sixth-annual leadership and innovation event, Rock the Road Experience (RTRX) held August 3-6, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. RTRX united business leaders through the triple bottom line theme of business, inspiration, and purpose. Proceeds, sponsorship, and team fundraising from this year’s event resulted in the largest donation ever in RTRX’s six-year history—Rockbridge CEO and RTRX founder Jim Merkel presented a donation of $1 million for cancer research.
“Our families, friends, and colleagues are all affected by cancer. We started RTRX because we refuse to stand by and do nothing,” said Merkel. “Each and every year, Rockbridge builds on its vision for RTRX, continuing to work side by side with innovative leaders toward our vision of living in a cancer free world.”
The event began with speakers who challenged attendees to think differently, to innovate and to make a difference and concluded with donors and fundraisers participating in Pelotonia, the nation’s largest cycling fundraiser to support cancer research. Speakers included Bill Walton, Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member and author, and Dan Pallotta, author, nonprofit change-agent, and owner of Advertising for Humanity.
This year’s event also featured a panel of leaders from the Smart Columbus initiative. The City of Columbus competed against 77 cities nationwide to win the Smart City Challenge in 2016. With a $40 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Smart Columbus initiative was formed with the purpose of improving people’s quality of life, driving growth in the economy, providing better access to jobs and ladders of opportunity, and becoming a world-class logistics leader. The panel included: Alex Fischer, CEO of the Columbus Partnership; Mark Patton, VP of Smart Columbus; and Carla Bailo, AVP, Mobility Research at The Ohio State University
During the event, attendees learned more about the progress in both fundraising and cancer research from Doug Ulman, Pelotonia CEO, and Dr. Michael Caligiuri, Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital and Solve Research Institute CEO. Both Ulman and Caligiuri have spoken frequently at RTRX in the past.
Many RTRX attendees rode in Pelotonia as part of Team Rockbridge. Rockbridge provided a road bike, team jersey, and helmet for those who wanted to fundraise for and take part in the cycling event. Team Rockbridge had a record of 222 members this year with 164 riders, 43 virtual riders, and 15 volunteers.