Family, friends carry on memory of cancer victim

Cory Lunger never let his personal battle with leukemia stop him from fighting cancer for others.

A year after he was diagnosed, he rode his bike 180 miles for Pelotonia, a cancer research fundraiser. When he learned he only had months to live, he started an endowment fund in his name to raise money for the same cause. And even after his passing, his legacy lives on through his family, who continue the battle for him.

“He fought cancer, there is no doubt about it,” said Lunger’s sister Holly Sebrell. “That’s one of the biggest reasons we do this poker run and really support Pelotonia, is to continue his fight for him.”

A bicycle poker run will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 23 at the Little Beaver Creek Greenway trail to raise money for the Pelotonia team “CLunger for a Cure.” This team is made up of Lunger’s family and friends who will ride in Pelotonia 2013 in his memory.

Lunger was a 2009 graduate of Columbiana High School, and then attended the Ohio State University. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 2008 at age 26.

Lunger battled his cancer for five years, achieving remission three times. He relapsed for the final time in January of this year. He passed away in March at age 31.

“He was always fighting cancer. Whether it was his own personal battle, or fighting for others by doing things like riding in Pelotonia,” said Sebrell. “He wanted to make sure that, even after he was gone, he wanted other people who have the same disease to have better treatment options than he had.”

Pelotonia is an annual bike tour that takes place in Columbus over the course of two days. One hundred percent of the money raised funds research at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard Solove Research Institute in Columbus. Each racer must meet a fundraising minimum based on how far they choose to ride, from $1,200 for 25 miles up to $2,200 for 180 miles.

“The ride is fantastic,” said Sebrell, who rode in Pelotonia with her brother in 2011 and 2012. “It’s thousands of people all riding for the motto of Pelotonia, ‘One goal: end cancer.’”

Lunger, who was treated at the Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital throughout his five-year battle with cancer, rode in Pelotonia every year since its inception in 2009, even though at the time of his races he was going through various stages of treatment and remission.

Lunger did not only support cancer research by racing in Pelotonia. His endowment, The Cory Lunger Endowment Fund, has raised over $7,000 for research for acute lymphoblastic leukemia research at Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“If he was still here, he’d be fighting. He’d be fundraising,” said Sebrell.

“CLunger for a Cure” is sponsoring five riders this year, including Sebrell. The team is also made up of volunteers and virtual riders -those who do not ride or volunteer but solely raise funds. Sebrell and her team hope to raise over $10,000 this year through various fundraising efforts, including the poker run.

The poker run begins and ends at both the Lisbon or Leetonia trail head, and registration is anytime between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Riders can play as many hands as they like for $5 a hand, with the entire trail being equal to two hands. There will be prizes for the top 10 hands. The run will happen rain or shine, and all ages are welcome to participate.

Those interested in learning more about or making a donation towards Lunger’s endowment fund can visit