Miles and Miles (and Miles) for Cancer Awareness
For the past decade, Texas university students have made epic bike treks across North America — and raised money to fight cancer while doing it.
Every year the Texas 4000, a student organization at the University of Texas at Austin, bikes from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska, raising awareness and money along the way. Since its inception, the Texas 4000 has raised almost $4 million for nonprofit organizations such as the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society.
Over the years, 395 riders have participated, including 69 in 2013. Two of this year’s riders are cancer survivors.
Prior to the cross-continental trek, each rider must raise at least $4,500 for charity, ride at least 1,500 training miles with teammates and volunteer more than 50 hours in the community. The 2013 voyage began on June 1, with a trip to Lampasas for its ninth annual Atlas Ride. During the trip to Alaska, the team will cycle about 70 days from June to August, averaging 70 miles a day with eight to 10 rest days. At each stop, the riders will present information to locals about cancer treatment and prevention, and active and healthy lifestyles.
According to the National Cancer Institute, many cancers are associated with obesity. One benefit of the Texas 4000, then, is the teams’ remarkable demonstration of both physical and mental endurance to thousands of people who cheer them on and support their cause as they cycle north.
“[We] meet so many people across the continent, experiencing the kindness of the human spirit, as complete strangers invite you into their homes, churches, and schools, and feed you and share their stories,” says Lance Pyburn, Texas 4000 program director and an alumnus rider.
“Then [there’s] a the sense of accomplishment, riding your bike across the continent and seeing 18 months of planning and training pay off.”
Jordan Deathe has been free of cancer since October 2007. As a member of the 2010 team, he road 3,000 training miles and raised about $5,500 before the trip.
“On their presentations to audiences the team encouraged a variety of cancer prevention habits including a vegetable- and fruit-based diet, wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water and exercising,” Deathe says. On his trip, “[we] were riding about 400 miles per week and much of the trip was at altitudes exceeding 5,000 feet, so everyone’s stamina and fitness improved for sure.”
Houston native Bucky Ribbeck is a pre-med student and cancer survivor who will ride in 2013.
“I want to ride 4,500 miles to show people how cancer can be conquered with the right mindset and the right people at your back,” Ribbeck says. As of May, he had raised more than $24,000 to fight cancer and cycled more than 1200 training miles.
Another survivor, Cedar Park native Chad Ramos, will ride with Bucky, traveling through the desert Southwest and up the west coast of the U.S. and Canada. “I ride for pediatric cancer patients, for the 46 kids that were diagnosed with cancer today, and for the 46 that will be diagnosed tomorrow,” Ramos says.
For information on future Atlas Rides and the Texas 4000 visit www.texas4000.org
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Original content from Reshaping Texas