Group Cycles Through City: Cyclists Show Support Of Texas 4000 In Fight Against Cancer

Texas 4000 Riding

Cyclists filled downtown Shreveport on June 8 as the Texas 4000 journeyed through the city sharing their mission to lead the fight against cancer.

The Texas 4000 is a national group of cyclists formed to fight against cancer by raising funds for research and sharing hope, knowledge and charity throughout the United States. The foundation was created by Chris and Mandy Condit, both engineering alumni from the University of Texas in Austin, as a way to fight against cancer by raising funds for cancer research and sharing hope, knowledge and charity throughout the continent. Diagnosed at age 11, Chris is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor.

Members of the Texas 4000 presented messages of prevention and early detection at the event hosted at the Shreveport Water Works Museum located at 142 North Common St.

“This is the first year that the Texas 4000 has come through our state, and Shreveport is the first Louisiana city to host them for a stop-over,” David Nelson, local community volunteer, said.

According to the Texas 4000 website, the event gives “hope as these young Texas 4000 team members with all their strength and enthusiasm for life, brave the cities and countryside, the mountains and plains – this is their battle against cancer.”

Local cycling enthusiasts, Shreveport town officials and the public greeted and encouraged the Ozarks Route riders as they made their way to the Shreveport Water Works Museum.

As a 70-day ride from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, the Texas 4000 summer ride is the longest annual charity bike ride in the world.

Starting together in Austin, the team split two days later to cover the three planned routes: the Rocky Route that heads through the Rocky Mountains, the Sierra Route that travels through the Sierra mountains, and the Ozarks Route that travels through the Ozark mountain range and up through the Midwest. On day 61, the teams from the three routes will reunite in Canada to ride the last nine days together into Anchorage.

The Ozarks Route is celebrating its one-year anniversary after being added in 2013. This route blazes through East Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota before crossing the international border into Canada and crossing the provinces and territories of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon.

The riders begin their day by gathering in a circle to reflect on their shared mission to fight cancer. Often joined by their hosts, everyone shares ride dedications for the day usually made in honor or in memory of a loved one or someone they met along the road who is fighting cancer.

Each student chosen to participate in the Texas 4000 worked to raise at least $4,500, prepared by riding 1,500 training miles with his/her team, volunteered more than 50 hours in the community and played an active role in planning every aspect of the ride to Alaska by attending weekly meetings and taking leadership positions within the team. Each rider will log more than 4,000 riding miles throughout the course of the ride.

The selected riders arrange all accommodations in advance during the training year. They rely on the generosity of host families, churches and schools for shelter and are prepared to camp and cook when housing or dinner is not available.

Since 2004, the Texas 4000 has competitively selected University of Texas students for an 18-month program designed to cultivate the next generation to lead the fight against cancer.

One of the Ozarks cyclists is Austin “King” Baker, a UT mechanical engineering student entering his senior year, whose two grandmothers and a few uncles and aunts reside in Shreveport. Baker is dedicating his ride to his late grandfather “Papa Tom” who was a Shreveport historian, writer and scholar also known as Thomas “Tom” F. Ruffin who suffered with the debilitating disease of ALS.

Before even taking off at the starting line, Baker has surpassed his goal of $4,500 on the Texas 4000’s website by raising $12,439, and he is not finished yet. This year, the 2014 Texas 4000 team’s goal is to raise $600,000. When met, that will push the Texas 4000’s 11-year total of money raised to over $4.5 million.

“[Papa Tom’s] positive attitude in the face of extreme hardship is something I will always look up to, and something I want to model my life after; I ride in his memory, and to spread his happiness with all those I meet,” Baker said.

The Texas 4000 from the University of Texas has partnered with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to raise real money for a real problem, and these college students and event organizers are determined to help raise funds to help find a cure for cancer.

For information about volunteering, sponsoring, hosting or donating, contact: or (512) 329-1963.