Racing against cancer
By Senior Airman Whitney Tucker
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 10th Annual Texas 4000 team cross the border into New Mexico on their way to Clovis. Dedicated to fighting cancer by sharing hope, knowledge and charity, the group of amateur cyclists will ride more than 4,500 miles from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, over the course of 70 days.
“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” — Helen Keller
Dedicated to fighting cancer by sharing hope, knowledge and charity, a group of 22 Alaska-bound University of Texas students crossed the border into New Mexico on their way to Clovis on June 6.
The amateur cyclists are members of the 10th annual Texas 4000 team, the longest annual charity bike ride in the world. At the conclusion of the 70-day journey, participants will have pedaled more than 4,000 miles from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska.
According to their website, members of the organization strive to share hope by letting those touched by cancer know that they are not alone — people are riding for them and are determined to find a cure.
Over the past nine years, Texas 4000 has raised more than $3.5 million for the fight against cancer, a feat that speaks to the caliber of the organization’s volunteers.
“The riders are UT students who applied and were selected more than a year in advance,” said Megan Smith, Texas 4000 host coordinator. “Each year brings a new group of riders, but one thing always remains the same — nearly all of them have been affected by cancer in one way or another. Some of the riders are survivors themselves.”
Riders who passed through Clovis on the Sierra route will continue on to Arizona, Utah, California, Oregon and Washington before crossing into Canada and finally reaching their destination in Alaska.
“Considering most applicants have zero endurance cycling experience, to say this endeavor is challenging would be an understatement,” Smith said. “Daily rides cover up to 100 miles and there is never a day off as they brave the elements and stresses of crossing the country at 15 to 20 mph.”
During this journey of a lifetime, riders depend largely on the charity and compassion of complete strangers for food and shelter.
“To maximize the amount of money that goes toward cancer research and increasing awareness of the disease, cyclists do not stay in hotels or eat fancy meals,” Smith said. “They camp out in tents, stay in churches, or bunk with host families. Most of their food is donated by grocery stores or families along the way.”
In Clovis, the Texas 4000 team was welcomed by Capt. Jason Ward, 16th Special Operations Squadron, and his wife, Amy, where they were met with a much needed, home-cooked meal.
“The amount of emotion expressed in the weeks leading up to, and at the welcome barbecue was astounding,” Smith said. “We saw tears of joy and remembrance, inspiration and astonishment, and gratitude for a group of people who made a commitment to bring awareness to cancer prevention.”
Though many believe the only strides made in cancer prevention and eradication take place in a sterile laboratory, those affiliated with the Texas 4000 are out to prove that triumphs of the human spirit can be every bit as important.
“This annual ride is an amazing event to be part of,” Ward said. “The local community continues to step up through donations of food, time, products and energy to make riders feel welcome.”
“The fact that these young students have dedicated their entire summer to raising awareness is truly commendable,” he continued. “Cannon’s Air Commandos should make every effort annually to partner with them as a way to encourage and inspire those affected by cancer nationwide.”
For information, or to get involved with the Texas 4000 organization, visit their website: http://www.texas4000.org/
Original content from Cannon Connections