Texas 4000 team makes stop in Hammond
It’s been said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. For the 2017 Texas 4000 team, a journey of 4,000 miles begins on some really good bikes.
The Texas 4000 team arrived at First Baptist Church Hammond for one of their stops for this year’s cycling trek across America to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
This team is one of three cycling teams comprised of students from the University of Texas in Austin who are venturing to Anchorage, Alaska. This team is a part of the Ozarks Route which headed east toward New Orleans and will go through the American Midwest before crossing the Canadian border and cycling across four Canadian provinces. Major cities along the route include Houston, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis, Madison, Winnipeg, and Edmonton. The three teams will join up again in Canada before their final destination of Alaska.
“Every one of these young men and women in Texas 4000 are committed to the fight against cancer,” said Scott Crews, Executive Director of Texas 4000. “These young leaders have trained hard and possess determination in tackling the more than 4,000-mile ride from Austin to Anchorage, a journey we see as a metaphor for the fight against cancer.”
The teams go through an 18-month training program where they fundraise for the cause, prepare for the cycling run and train as community leaders. This training prepares the team for the different challenges they will face on two wheels and builds the riders as ambassadors for the charity. During the ride, the team will stop at hospitals to present grants and visit cancer patients they are riding for.
“Coming to small towns is great because we get to connect with people on a personal level,” said Alex Shrode, an architectural engineering major at the University of Texas. “Even along the ride itself, we get to visit hospitals that we grant to and donate to, so we get to see firsthand how the money our team is raising is being spent to benefit cancer patients all across America.”
Each rider is required to raise a dollar per mile in the months leading up to the ride, making for a $4,500 goal. This is done by writing letters, making phone calls and social media campaigns. Riders have creative ways to raise money from friends like coloring their hair to growing a mustache to reach a goal.
The caravan stopped in Hammond Tuesday afternoon and the team enjoyed seeing the city and its small-town feel once riders arrived.
“I think looking through the city rolling in, it just looks like a cool and eclectic town,” said Shrode. “We’re really excited to explore it.”
Cancer is a disease that affects many people, whether it be an older relative or a childhood friend. Many of the riders have personal connections to how cancer has affected them and their stories serve as motivation for a grueling bike trail across the country.
Mikaela Casas is an assistant ride director who rides for her cousin Anthony passed away from brain cancer when he was five years old.
“He spent most of his life in a hospital and never got the chance to be a regular kid,” said Casas. “A lot of what we do is spend time with patients who are living a similar life to the one my cousin lived. I ride and hope that one day that won’t be a reality for kids anymore.”
The team heads for Brookhaven, Miss., Wednesday and will arrive in Memphis June 19.
To make a donation to the team or to keep up with the team’s progress, go to texas4000.org.