From Austin to Anchorage: Texas 4000 cycles through states for cancer
Photo credit Michael Minasi
Cancer affects us all. Whether it’s having cancer or knowing someone with cancer, it’s a sickness that the world would be better off without. How far would you go to increase awareness and raise money if it meant diminishing an illness that has claimed so many lives? Across the country? 4,000 miles?
This is exactly what about 70 UT Austin students are doing – on a bike. The Texas 4,000 is a nonprofit cancer-fighting ride that spans from Austin to Anchorage over a 70-day period. On Tuesday, North Shore Park in The Woodlands became a welcome center to the cyclists during their two-day stop in Houston.
“You’re doing it for a cause. Everyone has a loved one they’re riding for,” Texas 4,000 cyclist and Spring native Joey Dominguez said. “When you’re climbing the steep hills, you just remember who you’re doing it for.”
Joey Dominguez is a Klein Oak High School alumnus and a Senior Biochemistry and Plan II Honors College double major at UT Austin, and he is an Ozarks route rider for the Texas 4,000. He rides specifically to honor his aunt who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma about 10 years ago and has since survived. He rides for his friends and family. He rides for those who can’t ride for themselves.
“Our focus is trying to build up the cancer community and spread awareness,” Dominguez said.
Preparation for this cross-country bike trip began about 18 months prior to the departure date. Before his training, the only biking Joey did regularly was to and from class, but now he’s capable of meeting goals he never dreamed of achieving. The team had to train physically and mentally, and they were each tasked with raising money.
“Collectively, as a team, we had to open up and share our deepest, darkest times we went through with our families,” Dominguez said. “We are reminding patients that you’re not alone, you’re not forgotten.”
There are three routes that cyclists could choose from for their journey through North America: Sierra, Rockies and Ozarks. The Ozarks team is comprised of about 27 registered bikers. During their stop in Houston, they celebrated their fourth day of riding with a block party at North Shore Park, featuring an informative discussion about the program, and they visited Texas Children’s Hospital to spend time with the kids and share why they ride.
“If we were just biking for the sake of biking, it would be fun, but kind of lame,” Dominguez said. “What sets us apart is we meet patients where they are.”
A typical day for a Texas 4,000 rider consists of a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call, breakfast at 5:30 and a 7 a.m. departure. This allows for about 70-80 miles per day, with breaks of course, and team members stop around 2 p.m. so they can visit with community members. This program isn’t just about the ride, and it’s not just about raising money. It’s about getting into communities all over the country to be a comfort to those fighting cancer and to be an informative source for those who want to know more about helping people win their fight.
“It’s been enjoyable so far,” Dominguez said of the first few days of the trip. “The team is nothing but supportive. People are super generous in ways you wouldn’t expect them to be.”
During their stops, the riders are housed by anyone willing to open their doors. They’ve slept on gym floors, church floors and even living room floors when community members open their homes. Joey says he is most looking forward to visiting New Orleans because it typically sees high counts of lung cancer due to their looser tobacco laws.
“Training, I was not prepared to do what I’m doing now,” Dominguez said. “I can do things I didn’t think I was capable of.”
The rest of the Ozarks’ journey will take them through many cities in the continental United States like New Orleans, Little Rock, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis. They also will trek through some Canadian provinces, stopping in places like Winnipeg, Manitoba; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Edmonton, Alberta; Dawson Creek, British Colombia; and Whitehorse, Yukon. From there, the cyclists will ride into Alaska, where they will cross the 4,000-mile finish line in Anchorage, gaining personal victories as well as honoring those who have lost their battle, are fighting their battle and have won their battle in the fight against cancer.
If you’d like to follow the riders’ paths, donate to the cause or learn more about Texas 4,000 and the 2015 cyclists, visit texas4000.org.
Written by Beth Marshall
See original article here.