Meet a Health Hero: Ryan Oelkers

Read more about Cadence Cycling Foundation's Ryan Oelkers, a semi-finalist in our 2013 Health Hero Challenge!

>> You can vote for Ryan on our Facebook page September 17-23. Mark your calendar!

Name: Ryan Oelkers

Occupation: Co-founder and Senior Director of Operations for Cadence Cycling Foundation

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
Since 2007, I’ve been fortunate enough to help over 600 kids get involved in the sport of cycling as the co-founder of the Cadence Cycling Foundation. Part of the mission of the foundation is to use cycling as a tool to help Philadelphia youth grow into healthy, happy and responsible adults. A couple of youth in the program have even lost over 100 pounds! The participants in the program continue to inspire me with their amazing hard work and dedication. Additionally, I’m the father of four kids and I want to be around a long time to see them grow up.

Describe a health or fitness related turning point in your life.
Being a professional cyclist offered me the opportunity to meet amazing people, travel the world and learn valuable life skills. Now I get to pass on these great experiences and skills to the kids in the Cadence Cycling Foundation. It’s great to be able to combine my love of cycling and help youth in the Philadelphia area.

What “policy” would you institute to make Greater Philadelphia a healthier region.
I would prohibit cheesesteaks and pretzels … just kidding! I want to see kids in the Philadelphia area eating healthier and exercising more. I support any program or organization that will help make this happen in Philadelphia.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?
For me, it’s important to keep it fun, interesting and social. Just last week, I competed in a cycling event with Lisa Nutter and other Philadelphia cycling advocates at the Valley Preferred Velodrome in the Lehigh Valley. It was great to be with other cyclists promoting cycling in the Philadelphia region.

What is your number one piece of health related advice?
A coach once told me, “The hardest step is getting out the door.” There have been many times when I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV, but in the back of my head, I knew that I would feel so much better mentally and physically after a workout.