Texas 4000 riders stop at Turner Falls to share message of cancer research
DAVIS — Wearing short-sleeved orange and blue cyclist jerseys that had the words Texas 4000 cancer printed in white lettering, 20 University of Texas students disassembled their bicycles and placed them into a trailer that was hitched to their van.
They had arrived at Turner Falls after cycling north on Highway 77 to Turner Falls Park.
This wasn’t wasn’t your normal bike ride.
The Texas 4000 is an 18-month leadership development program in which 66 University of Texas students ride more than 4,000 miles from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, over the course of 70 days on three designated routes — Rockies, Ozark and Sierra — to share their stories of family members who have been struck by cancer and to help raise money for cancer research.
The Rockies route passes through Dallas, Turner Falls, Oklahoma City, Denver, Salt Lake City, Jackson, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, through the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia before reaching Alaska.
Thursday marked Day 6 of their 70-day ride across the western half of the United States.
Cancer has affected every one of the riders in one way or another.
Andrew Coulter, who took up cycling last year, got involved with the Texas 4000 to honor the memory of his late grandfather, Vicente Silva Pinto, who passed away from liver cancer four years ago.
“I spent the last two weeks of his life with him,” Coulter said. “Through that scene, someone that you look up to and is a huge role model for you, who is a powerful figure in your life, and then seeing them at the end of their life, like really, really struggle, was hard for me. I think it cemented the reason for riding the Texas 4,000.”
Olivia Arena rides in honor of her aunt, Maryann Flores, a breast cancer survivor.
“Everyone knows someone affected by cancer and it is really great whenever we see the impact that we’re making in the communities and the stories that are being shared,” Arena said. “When you’re pedaling, you’re really thinking about it as a humble metaphor in the fight against cancer.”
They have encountered people along the way who have similar stories.
An unidentified man from Ardmore share his story of survival with the group Thursday.
“One of our guys was driving and the trailer fell off the hitch and bent,” Coulter said. “An older guy who was from Ardmore pulled up and said he would help us. He got in his truck and went to his house to get the jack and then came back and re-hitched it.
“He asked us what we were doing, and I said that we were riding in the Texas 4000. He said, ‘Oh, a year ago, I was told that I was cancer free.’ He said he had colon cancer. It was nice to see him show that kindness to us.”
Riding in the Texas 4000 has three requirements: one, raise $1 dollar for every mile they bike; two, perform 50 hours of community service; and three, train for one year (each cyclist totals 2,000 miles riding through the streets of Austin).
Texas 4000 seeks to raise $825,000. Having received donations totaling more than $507,000, as of Saturday, the organization is well on their way to meeting their goal.
Donations can be made online at www.texas4000.org/.
But the Texas 4000 is more than just fundraising, Arena said.
“Essentially, we’re a ride-telling organization,” she said. “Everyone in this organization is riding for a reason.”
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