4K for Cancer

During the summer of 2014, 30 college-aged students (including myself) embarked on a 70-day, cross country bike ride that started in Baltimore, MD and ended in San Francisco, CA. We cycled under the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults’ program “4K for Cancer” to inspire and unite communities in the fight against cancer. I raised $9,700 of Team San Francisco’s $300,000 total, adding to the entire 4K for Cancer total of over $1.1 million. Check out my page and explore the website here.

To learn more about the 4K for Cancer, or to apply to be a rider/runner, visit: http://4kforcancer.org.  And feel free to learn about my 70-day journey through my daily blog posts.  Click here to cycle back in time to June 1st, 2014, day one of the 4K.

4K for Cancer Closing Thoughts

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” – Ernest Hemingway
  
Well, the 4K for Cancer has come to an end.  From June 1 to August 9, I’ve ridden with my team 3,643 miles from Baltimore, Maryland to San Francisco, California.  We spent 256 hours on our saddles, ascending a total of 133,000 feet, the equivalent of 4 Mount Everests, and burned over 200,000 calories while riding through 12 states.  More importantly, I’ve raised $9,650 for young adults battling cancer.  I want to give a huge thank you to every single person who has donated, sent words of love and inspiration, or shared my story.  We have made an incredible difference in the lives of so many fighting cancer.  My team has raised over $300,000 and the 4K for Cancer teams together have raised $1.1 million this summer.  Just about all of that money goes straight to young adults fighting cancer.  And it was incredibly special to visit cancer centers and hospitals and seeing that money change the lives of patients.  We delivered chemotherapy care packages to many patients, consisting of small things to make their fights just a little easier.  Anything from backscratchers, fuzzy socks, blankets, and more were given to hundreds of patients.  The money we raised also goes to pay the salaries of patient navigators, people who guide young adults through their fight with cancer.  Patient navigators are not found in every hospital but are an important resource in any battle.  The Ulman Cancer Fund currently partners with five different hospitals in the Maryland area to make sure navigators are present.  We’ve met many along our trip and I can’t tell you how valuable they are.  Many of them are cancer survivors and understand the fight, from diagnosis to survivorship.  We awarded scholarships to two individuals, one of which lost his mother to cancer, the other who is a young girl entering college that is currently fighting.  Cancer is more than just an emotional battle.  Treatments and surgeries are incredibly expensive and force financial burdens on families.  The scholarships we provide help alleviate monetary stresses and hopefully enable each recipient the means to follow their dreams.  Cancer poses a terrible obstacle in people’s lives, especially those of young adults, but with a little bit of support, there is hope for the future.  With the money you all have donated and the money the 4K teams have raised, we have and will continue to make positive impacts on so many.  I can’t thank you all enough.

I started this journey as an individual, riding for my mother who battled brain cancer for 5 years and passed away in 2009.  However, after 70 days, I have gained 29 brothers and sisters.  We started as 30 strangers and are now a lifelong team.  I’ve never experienced a group of people so different but so tightly connected.  They provided inspiration, strength, and comfort, many of them having lived through similar experiences to my own.  I learned so much about teamwork, sacrifice, and understanding.  Many are pursuing careers in medicine, cancer research, social work, and other honorable and important fields.  Our future is so bright.  Thank you to my amazing team for riding by my side this summer.  I simply do not have the words to express what we shared this summer or what it has meant to me.

I’d also be remiss not to mention the late, Jamie Roberts.  In all 13 years of cross-country cycling, never has the 4K for Cancer lost one of our own on the road.  Unfortunately this summer, we lost Jamie.  Although I did not know her personally, I know she was a dedicated, strong, and positive rider on Team Portland.  It’s amazing how much she has inspired thousands of people across the nation.  Her legacy will live on in every 2014 rider, the 4K family, and everyone she has touched.  Check out the #milesforjamie page on Facebook and log in your miles for her.

The 4K for Cancer is a unique experience.  It is exhausting, emotional, and incredibly challenging.  But it is so rewarding.  We rode in the rain, the 100+ degree heat, and over mountains, for miles and days at a time.  I’ve never fought so hard in my life: mentally, emotionally, and physically.  But I’ve also never felt so inspired, strong, or proud either.  To anyone with the slightest bit of interest of having a connection to cancer, please consider.  Not only will you change yourself, but you will change the world.

A special thank you to those who followed my blog this summer.  I will be continuing to use it to document my travels and life.  Continue to follow me and check back every now and then for updates!  Although I will not be blogging everyday, I do have some exciting plans on the horizon!

This morning, I am leaving San Francisco and heading south to the beautiful city of San Diego, California.  I’m on to new adventures, but will always remember this summer and will forever continue the fight against cancer.

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.”

Peace and love,

Michael

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