Texas 4000 riders head to Mesquite; raise funds to fight cancer

Texas 4000 team members are scheduled to roll into Mesquite Wednesday on their way to Anchorage, Alaska.

Seventy-nine undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Texas at Austin brave the rain, sleet, wind, snow, heat and will pedal more than 4,500 miles in the longest charity bike ride in the world, according to a press release. The trip is a fundraiser in support of the fight against cancer in its 11th year.

“Along their journey, riders will volunteer at community events that contribute in the fight against cancer and visit with cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and family members to make educational presentations about cancer prevention and early detection,” says the release.

“This ride comes with some obvious physical demands and perhaps less than obvious emotional demands,” said Texas 4000 Executive Director, Jen Garza. “It’s incredibly encouraging for the riders to be supported by the people of Mesquite, and have the opportunity to share their stories about how they pursue this ride in hopes of living in a cancer-free society.”

The students began the ride May 31, with a 70-mile community ride, according to the release. They then headed north, split among three routes; Rockies, Sierra and Ozarks. The group heading to Mesquite is part of the Sierra route, which takes them through New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, California, Washington and then on through Canada.

Texas 4000 began 11 years ago when Chris Condit, a University of Texas student and cancer survivor, sought a way to share a message of hope, knowledge and charity to those with cancer, according to the release. Since then, Texas 4000 has sent more than 400 riders on their bicycles, traveling more than 2 million miles to honor those affected by cancer.

Collectively, these riders have raised more than $4 million for the fight against cancer, funding cancer research projects at MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas Biomedical Engineering Department and survivorship programs such as the LIVESTRONG Navigational Services Center.

According to the website, Texas 4000 selects University of Texas students for an 18-month program designed to cultivate the next generation to lead the fight against cancer.

It “empowers each student to raise $4,500, ride 1,500 training miles with his/her team, volunteer more than 50 hours in the community and play an active role in planning every aspect of the ride to Alaska by attending weekly meetings and taking leadership positions within the team,” the site says.

“As a result of their full experience, Texas 4000 riders report growth and increased skills in the areas of physical fitness, leadership, accountability, confidence, resiliency, decision-making, conflict resolution, cancer advocacy, community engagement, volunteerism, fundraising, networking, mentorship, nonprofit operations, bike maintenance, nutrition, public speaking, interviewing, time management, teamwork and more,” says the site.

“The ride itself serves as a metaphor for the difficult battle cancer patients wage each day: A long and difficult road, with hard days and easier ones, good days, and not so good days. This is a difficult trip for me on many levels,” said rider Emmy Laursen “But I have known so many people with cancer who bravely, fiercely, and with determination, fought this dreadful disease. I ride for those people.”

To learn more about the incredible people that make up the Texas 4000 team, to make a donation or read the riders’ blogs, visit www.texas4000.org.