Austin to Alaska by bicycle is memorable charity ride for one local resident

Willa Altman-Kaough

Elgin High School graduate, Willa Altman-Kaough is taking a memorable bicycle ride as she travels more than 4,000 miles to Alaska to raise money for cancer research.

The 70-day Texas 4000 summer ride begins in Austin and ends in Anchorage, Alaska. It is the longest annual charity ride in the world – more than twice the distance of the Tour de France, claims the Web site.
After the ride takes off in Austin, the team splits into three routes on the second day of the trip. The routes are the Sierra, Rockies and Ozarks routes. Each meets up again in Canada to ride the last nine days together.

A whole year is needed to train and prepare. Riders arrange their own accommodations during the year prior to taking off.

Riders have the generosity of host families, churches and schools for shelter and can camp when housing is not available.

Riders rotate the duties of driving the support vehicles, setting up rest stops, securing food donations and preparing meals that are not provided.

Cancer prevention and detection information is shared along the way. Community members along the way have the opportunity to sign the team’s dedication banner, which the riders will carry on their journey to Alaska in memory or honor of that individual’s fight.

Each year, Texas 4000 awards grants to organizations with a focus on cancer research or cancer support services.

Established requirements for grantees include involvement and investment in the Texas 4000 program as well as the ability of the grant to make a significant relative impact.

Altman-Kaough said, “To me, however, Texas 4000 is even more than that. It is about storytelling, making connections with people across circumstantial boundaries through the language of love and loss and inspiration.

“I think these connections are ultimately what we all live for.”

“While this ride serves as a creative fundraiser and a mode for raising awareness for cancer, it also serves as a reminder of our individual and collective potential to help better our world.

“I am not only asking for donations, but for people who feel connected to this cause, cancer-related or not, to share with me the names and stories of themselves and their loved ones – I would be immensely honored to carry their stories with me on this journey.”