Most Interesting People 2014: Cassie Schumacher

Cassie Schumacher


WHY SHE'S INTERESTING: Inspired by her father, a homeless Vietnam War veteran, Schumacher founded the nonprofit Wheels 4 Change after qualifying for the 3,000-mile Race Across America in 2010. While the organization's goal is to raise money to support U.S. military veterans, it goes deeper. "Financially, we have raised a good amount of money. But I think true help is when you stand with the people and walk with them in their healing journey."

REALITY RIDE: At 18, cycling helped Schumacher battle alcoholism. "It clears my head and helps me get in the present." Eventually she started endurance cycling. By 2010, she became the fourth woman from Ohio to qualify for the Race Across America, which she used to promote Wheels 4 Change.

HER FATHER'S FIGHT: Schumacher's father lived normally for 20 years after serving in Vietnam. But in 1988, after helping organize a welcome home parade for other vets in Cleveland, he became estranged from his family. In addition to Wheels 4 Change, Schumacher co-founded the event series Pedal for Heroes in 2011. During the main event last year, 11 area fitness facilities raised more than $16,000 in one day for local veterans' organizations. "My dad and my family are my main inspiration to do what I have over the past several years." Her father has recently attended fundraising events and her send-off and finish parties for the Race Across America. "He is very supportive of me."

SLEEP CYCLE: In 2013, Schumacher finished first in her age group at the Race Across America. She did it thanks to a support crew of eight and her sponsors, who raised more than $15,000 for her to compete. Pedaling solo, she spent almost two weeks on the road, averaging three hours of sleep per day. "Once the clock starts, it does not stop — not for sleep, meals, bathroom breaks or anything."

View Finder: "Utah is the most fantastic place. My favorite place ever is riding through Navajo Nation. You can just really feel the spirit of the earth and our ancestors there. It's just a place that you just feel like you're in a different world."

PEACE IN THE VALLEY: Schumacher spends three to six days a week in the offseason in the saddle of her black and red Pinarello road bike. The Akron resident's favorite place to ride is the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. "It is the main reason why I moved to Akron."

FILM BUFF: Schumacher's favorite event in the city is the annual Cleveland International Film Festival. "I just love all the diversity in movies, being able to see movies that you wouldn't typically be exposed to."

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