National Guard Staff Sgt. riding in VeloSano to support hometown, charity

Jenn Woods (left) and fellow VeloSano participant Amanda Ptacek

Jenn Woods (left) and fellow VeloSano participant Amanda Ptacek

When Jenn Woods stumbled upon the chance to sport a bike jersey designed by former Tribe catcher Sandy Alomar, she knew she had to participate in VeloSano, the inaugural edition of which is July 19-20.

Developed by Cleveland Clinic, VeloSano will raise money for cancer research, with every cent going toward research.

A Staff Sergeant in the Ohio Army National Guard, Woods was ready for the challenge presented to her. Woods has been in the military for more than 13 years and has been deployed four times as she has supported operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Noble Eagle. She said she has spent time in 15 different countries.

Her two jobs while she is deployed include being a mechanic (her specialty) and being a soldier — and thinks she can handle the 25-mile VeloSano ride.

“I’d have to say that I’m not in the best shape I have ever been in right now; basic training probably had me there, but I am working back up to it,” Woods said. “Being a soldier means being ready for anything at any time, so we are provided with a good amount of time to keep our bodies ready.

“I ran my first half marathon on my last deployment in the middle of the desert, and it was probably the hardest workout that I’ve ever had. 13.1 miles in about 120-degree weather is just crazy when you think about it, but I’d probably do it again if I had the chance.”

Within the past nine years, Woods has worked on receiving her bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cleveland State University. Woods, who once worked in ballpark security at Progressive Field, is expected to graduate from CSU next spring.

A native of Westlake, Ohio, Woods has vivid memories of cheering on the Tribe in 1995. Her love of the Indians combined with her desire to stay in shape brought two of her favorite passions together when she originally found out about the first annual VeloSano bike for a cure.

“I love to do events around Cleveland that support different charities and organizations,” she said. “It all started because the military does 5K runs and other events for different holidays and if you participated, you would get a t-shirt. I always have been a sucker for the swag.”

Woods remembers watching the 1995 World Series in her red, white and blue Indians gear as a kid.

“My mom let me and my brother stay up and watch the games,” Woods said. “We were so tired the next day and so upset over the loss that she let us skip school. If you knew my mother, you would understand what a big deal that was.”

To join Woods and other Indians fans in their fight against cancer – and to get an Indians VeloSano jersey — please visit Indians.com for more information.

–TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden

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