Cyclists make stop in Gainesville en route to Alaska
Madison Weigand has wanted to cycle across America with Texas 4000 since she was in the sixth grade.
“My cousin rode in 2006,” Weigand, 21, said Wednesday afternoon at Gainesville High School, a host stop for 25 cyclists. “And I remember thinking it was really admirable.”
From that moment on, Weigand, from Southern California, knew she would be attending the University of Texas at Austin.
Founded in 2004, Texas 4000’s mission is to cultivate student leaders and engage communities in the fight against cancer, according to the nonprofit organization’s website, www.texas4000.org. As part of the mission, UT students take part in a 70-day, 4,000-plus-mile ride that travels three routes — Sierra, Rockies and Ozarks — from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska, every year.
Weigand, the Rockies travel chairwoman, said each cyclist has a story.
During her freshman year of college, Weigand lost three of her grandparents — two of which died of cancer.
“Their deaths in such close proximity really impacted me,” she said. “I ride for all three of my grandparents.”
Weigand said she applied to ride as part of the team her junior year.
“It’s a pretty intense application process,” she said.
Once selected, participants have a number of requirements to fulfill, including raising a minimum of $4,500 for charity, logging 2,000 training miles and volunteering 50 hours in the community.
Weigand, who recently graduated with a major in political communication, said she just surpassed her fundraising goal of $10,000 earlier this week.
She said an estimated $350,000 raised by last year’s team will be donated to various facilities— such as UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas— along each route to help fund cancer-related research and support.
So far, the 2017 team, whose money will be donated next summer, has raised more than $620,000, according to the Texas 4000 website.
“We would love to break at least the $800,000 mark,” Weigand said.
Leslie Crutsinger, a spokeswoman for Gainesville Independent School District, said this is the second year in a row that the district has hosted the Rockies group.
She said State Farm Insurance Agent Jim Goldsworthy sponsored the meals and snacks and the district
provided “a cool place to sleep, eat, shower and use laundry facilities.”
“We are thrilled that the Texas 4000 Rockies route once again rode through Gainesville,” Crutsinger said. “They are a group of individuals with tremendous drive and ambition.”
Weigand, who left Gainesville Thursday morning on a 97-mile ride to Wichita Falls, said she is very fortunate to be part of something so meaningful.
“It’s a pretty good commemoration of the college experience,” she said.