Round Rock High Grad to ride more than 4,000 miles to fight cancer

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On an April weekend Bailey Bond, left, and teammate Tai Massimilian are pictured on a 100-mile ride preparing for the trip to Alaska. Contributed

Bailey Bond rides for his mother, his late grandfather and to prove to himself that “sometimes you can face the impossible and you can do incredible things.”

Bond, a 21-year-old architectural engineering junior at the University of Texas, learned to ride a bike as a child growing up in Round Rock.

Now he will ride more than 4,500 miles from Austin to Alaska through the Rocky Mountains in this year’s Texas 4000, a team of 71 UT students who bike more than 4,000 miles each year to raise funds for cancer research.

The 2014 Round Rock High School grad remembers a quote he once heard that has provided inspiration.

“‘Signing up for the hard things and doing the hard things in life, makes the hard things that you don’t sign up for easier,’” he recited. “No body signs up to get cancer.”

Proving to himself that he can sign up and do hard things such as a 70-day bike ride to support cancer research or run the Boston Marathon has helped Bond process grief and loss, he said.

“When I started college is kind of when my family started to be affected by cancer,” Bond said.

Bond’s grandfather Robert “Bob” Barris was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2014 and his parents moved from Round Rock to Tampa, Florida, to take care of him, Bond said. In the winter of Bond’s freshman year at UT, he told his Grandpa Bob that he would run the Austin Marathon and qualify for the Boston Marathon to run in his honor.

Before Bond ran the Austin Marathon, his grandfather died. “It was hard for me to do the Austin Marathon after that, but I told him I would do it,” he said. “I was able to fulfill and keep that promise I made to him. This physical thing I did tied me to him in a way.”

Less than three months after the loss of his grandfather, Bond’s mother, Rachel Ann Bond, was diagnosed with stage 3B colon cancer. “That was really hard on us,” he said. “She’s a really strong and incredible woman.”

Bond’s mother was declared cancer free after her first surgery but relapsed in summer 2016, he said. She went through another surgery and chemotherapy, and is again cancer free, he said.

Bond rides for his mother, grandfather and other family members affected by cancer. “Doing the Texas 4000 is such a physical feat,” he said. “It means a lot for me in processing grief and loss.”

But the ride is not just about loss, he said. It’s about hope and perseverance.

Throughout the ride, the group will make stops in communities along the way and lead cancer prevention and detection educational programs. The group will stay in schools, with host families, in churches and camp.

“I’m really hoping to take with me the stories of the people that I meet,” he said. “Meeting new people and carrying on their loved ones’ legacies, bringing joy to people through the ride, and showing people that we’re all in this together and we’re making a difference in the fight against cancer.”

Bond’s goal is to raise $15,000 for cancer research in his ride. As of Wednesday, he had raised $12,214 toward his goal.

Proceeds from the ride are turned into grants the Texas 4000 distributes to organizations like MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Livestrong Foundation and others.

During stops, the team also will enroll people in the national bone marrow registry with the organization Be A Match, he said.

Bond donated bone marrow in April 2016 to an anonymous recipient — a young boy with a rare form of blood cancer, he said. “It was a surgery but totally justifiable by saving an 8-year-old boy’s life and giving him hope for a longer life,” he said. Bond also plans to spread that message on his ride.

To learn more, visit texas4000.org.

Written by Nicole Barrios – Austin Community Newspapers Staff

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