Riders Roll Through

A group of undergraduate students from the University of Texas rolled through Elk City on Sunday, nine days after departing from Austin, Texas. The group is taking one of three routes to Anchorage, Alaska while raising funds for cancer research.

The students are taking the Rockies route which of course goes through the Rocky Mountains. There is also the Sierra route which goes through California and the Ozark route that goes through Chicago. The ride is the longest annual ride for charity in the world and will take 70 days.

The organization was  started by a former University of Texas Student and cancer survivor, Chris Condit. More than 540 riders have taken up the difficult challenge almost twice as long as the Tour De France. Since 2004, over two million miles have been ridden.

Each year starts out with a new team of riders. 2015 marks the 12th team since the inception of the organization in 2004. There are 72 riders this year.

Sunday marked the first time the group has come through Elk City. They planning on meeting with survivors and different communities along their trek. They also want to offer up hope to others.

Training for the ride is a long process with each rider beginning with the Texas 4000 18 months in advance. Fellow rider Sai Gourisankar talked about what each person must go through to be able to ride.

“We do 1,500 miles of training on the bike itself. We raise more than $4,500 dollars each, one dollar for every mile we ride and then we do more than 50 hours of volunteer service.”

Collectively the organization has raised over $4.5 million dollars that goes to fighting cancer. This year alone the group has already raised $640,000 with a goal of $800,000 by the time they reach Alaska. Some riders go far and beyond that $4,500 goal.

“A lot of it is through grants and letter writing to individual donors, each individual rider is responsible for that $4,500 but many go far and beyond. For example, a rider here has raised over $30,000 already,” he said.

The money raised by the organization over the 70 days goes to many different places to help find a cure for the disease.

Some places the money has been given to include M.D. Anderson Center in Houston and the University of Texas Biomedical Engineering Department. To help with the harshness of chemotherapy, the organization gave a seed grant to a lab that has found a better way to target cancer cells.

The money is also given to different cancer services as well.

“We’ve given to Young Adults of Cancer Canada. A youth retreat that they put on for youths that have survived cancer and Livestrong Survivorship as well,” Gourisankar mentioned.

Each individual rider has someone to ride for to motivate them to finish the ride. One of the things the riders love to do is meet other people and ride for their loved ones.

For Gourisankar, he rides for his grandfather and his grandmother. He lost his grandfather to bladder cancer.

“I almost didn’t get a chance to know him. He was diagnosed with Stage four bladder cancer right before I was born. Doctors called it a medical miracle that he survived,” he said. “He left a note in his will for me and his grandchildren. He told us to remember life is too short to be small so that inspired me to join the organization in honor of his memory.”

He also rides for his grandmother who is battling pancreatic cancer.

For more information on the Texas 4000, visit www.texas4000.org.

Written by Austin Litterell

See original article here.