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Dayton Strong: Local Musician’s Biking Fundraiser Benefits Family of Shooting Victim

After tragedy struck his community, Mike Cooley felt a bond with one of the victims. So he set up a pledge per mile biking fundraiser to support the young children she left behind.

On August 4, 2019, tragedy struck the Dayton, Ohio community when a gunman opened fire, killing nine people and injuring 17 others. For Dayton’s most popular hangout spot— the Oregon Historic District— it came as a shock, and was the last place a resident would expect an act of extreme violence to occur. One of the victims was 27-year-old Lois Oglesby, mother of two young children, including a three-month-old baby.

Dayton native Mike Cooley works in the Oregon District, and was bombarded with texts and calls in the wee hours of the morning, as friends and family checked in on his safety. As the father of a young daughter and strong community member, he was moved by the shooting, and death of Oglesby.

“I couldn’t imagine telling my daughter that her mom’s not coming home again,” Cooley explained. “There’s a baby that’s not going to have any memories of her mother.” Cooley began searching for how we could help and discovered a fund benefitting Oglesby’s children, set up by her mother with the Miami Valley Community Action Partnership.

Biking for a Cause

Cooley is known in the Dayton area as a philanthropist, having used his music to raise money for various causes in the past. “People always know I’m doing fundraisers and things like that,” Cooley said. “[After the shooting] people were asking me, ‘where can I donate? What can I do?’”

In addition to philanthropy and music, the DJ has also become an avid biker. For months, he’s had a ride planned over Labor Day weekend from Cincinnati to Dayton and back. The trip was initially just for personal accomplishment, as well as a goal to keep him motivated to take regular rides so he could get back in shape and lose some weight.

“Biking is something I’ve been doing since I was a little kid,” Cooley said. “This year especially, I started taking it more seriously. I’ve tried to use it to get back in shape before, but I kept falling off a couple months in. So I set this goal to ride to Cincinnati and back, to keep myself accountable. You can’t just ride 71 miles each way casually, so it’s a hobby that’s become something I’ve gotten more and more into.”

After seeing the fund for Oglesby’s children and having a chat with his sister, he had a thought: “I wondered if there was a way that I could get people to pledge money for the bike ride. Why not make this bike ride mean more than just some personal goal that I’m checking off?”

He soon found Pledge It and launched his campaign that night. The next morning, he went for a bike ride, came back to check his page, and it had already raised over $1,500. Riding for Lois Oglesby has since hit Cooley's $5,000 goal, to be added to the Oglesby children’s trust. When he was training for the Labor Day ride, the importance of his fundraiser kept him motivated. “I was riding the other day and getting real fatigued. The first thought I had was, ‘You gotta get it together. It’s bigger than you. [The fundraiser] is going to be heavy on my mind during the ride.”

For a city that’s had its fair of hardships in the past several months, the fact that the community is eager to rally in support of its own is not lost on Cooley. “If anything happened to my daughter’s mom or me, I hope the community would look out for her. Dayton has taken such tremendous blows, but we’ve been so strong. I hope we can continue that.”

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Published on July 20, 2020

by Dave Costlow

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