- Route: Smoky-mountains
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
- School Year: Graduate
- Major: Geological Sciences
- Email: [email protected]
Hey all, welcome to my Texas 4000 rider profile and thanks a lot for visiting! My name is Colin Schroeder and I am a PhD candidate in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. Originally, I am from Orono, Minnesota, which is 20 miles west of Minneapolis. Prior to beginning my PhD, I earned a master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering from UT-Austin and three bachelor’s degrees from Penn State University.
During the summer of 2021, my Texas 4000 teammates and I will embark on a 70-day, 4,000+ mile cycling journey from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, in hopes of inspiring communities across North America to join us in the fight against cancer. Texas 4000 for Cancer is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2004 at The University of Texas at Austin with the mission of cultivating student leaders and engaging communities in the fight against cancer. Texas 4000 shares HOPE by letting those touched by cancer know that we are riding for them, KNOWLEDGE by educating communities about cancer prevention and early identification, and CHARITY by contributing to cancer research and cancer support services across North America. Beyond the cornerstone 4,000+ mile bike ride from Austin to Anchorage, Texas 4000 is a leadership development program that is preparing the next generation of volunteers and philanthropists to lead the fight against cancer.
I first learned about Texas 4000 in 2014, shortly after beginning graduate school at UT-Austin. Texas 4000’s mission immediately resonated with me due to my mom’s diagnosis with colon cancer the previous year and the recent loss of my Aunt Rhonda to brain cancer. I actually filled out the application to join Texas 4000 every year since then – 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 – but, due to my crazy and uncertain graduate school schedule, I never felt I would be able to commit the time to the organization that I thought it deserved.
In June 2017, my mom’s colon cancer treatment plan transitioned from “curing” to “managing” after her doctors discovered the cancer had spread and become inoperable. Knowing that riders from Texas 4000 would be passing through northern Minnesota about a month later, I suggested that my parents meet them, share their story, and bring along some of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies, which are literally the best cookies in the world. On July 10, 2017, my parents spent several hours getting to know the Texas 4000 riders and the following day they dedicated their 11.5-hour, 161-mile ride through northern Minnesota to my mom. Writing about this today still brings me chills. My parents’ excitement when they called after meeting the riders is something that I will never forget. They were completely blown away and inspired by the commitment the riders made to the Texas 4000 mission of sharing hope, knowledge, and charity to fight cancer. Through my parents’ experience, I can truly attest to the impact that Texas 4000 brings to individuals and communities affected by cancer throughout North America.
Ever since that day, I knew my final summer of graduate school would be dedicated to the fight against cancer. With my master’s degree complete and the end of my PhD in sight, I am thrilled and completely honored to be a member of the 2021 Texas 4000 for Cancer team. Together we can fight for a cancer-free future. Thank you so much for all of your love, encouragement, and support!
To Alaska and Back,
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Why I Ride
Every morning of the 70-day cycling journey from Austin to Anchorage begins with riders gathering in a circle to reflect on Texas 4000’s mission to fight cancer. Everyone shares their ride dedications for the day, which are usually made in honor of a loved one or someone they met along the road who previously fought or is currently fighting cancer. Whether or not you choose to make a donation, if there is anyone in your life that has been affected by cancer or that you would like me to ride for, I encourage you to reach out and share your story with me at [email protected]. Between now and June 2020 when my ride begins, I am looking forward to hearing your stories and adding ride dedications for each day of my journey from Austin to Anchorage.
Day 1: I ride in support of my mom, who was diagnosed with colon cancer on February 11, 2013. The past six years have been a roller coaster for her with three major surgeries and countless rounds of chemotherapy. Despite everything that she has been through, her positive attitude and “let’s make the best of this” mentality has been an inspiration for everyone. I also ride in support of my dad, who has been by my mom’s side through everything over the past six years. Mom and dad: I love you, I so greatly appreciate everything you do for me, and I cannot wait to see you in Anchorage in August 2020!
Day 2: I ride in memory of Aunt Rhonda, who lost her battle with brain cancer on March 7, 2014. Rhonda was a loving mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend to all and her memory continues to live on today.
Day 3: I ride in memory of Grandpa Grotkin, who lost his battle with lung cancer on January 4, 1999. Although I was young when Grandpa Grotkin passed away, I still happily remember taking tractor rides down to the lake, catching “sunnies” from the pontoon, and building clocks together in his woodshop.
Day 4: I ride in memory of Grandma and Grandpa Schroeder. Grandma Schroeder battled a rare form of colon cancer for over 14 years before passing away in 1978. Although I never had the opportunity to meet her, stories of her rafting adventure through the Grand Canyon while she was sick and her exceptional figure skating skills guarantee that we would have had a special relationship. Grandpa Schroeder passed away on September 2, 2012, at age 97. Although he managed to avoid serious encounters with cancer himself, I ride in memory of Grandpa Schroeder because he was one of the most generous people I ever met and has always been among my greatest role models.
Day 5: I ride “For the Kids” – As an undergraduate student at Penn State University, I was involved with the Penn State IFC / Panhellenic Dance Marathon, known as THON, which provides support for children and families impacted by childhood cancer. THON is a yearlong effort by students and volunteers to raise money “For the Kids,” which culminates in a 46-hour, no sitting, no sleeping dance marathon. Getting involved with THON remains a highlight from my time at Penn State and seeing the joy on the faces of kids supported by THON was something that I will never forget.
Day 6: I ride for Laurie Wallace. Laurie lives in the Redwoods of Northern California, where she enjoys walks along the beach and among the giant and quiet trees. She also enjoys spending time in Montana with her husband and two sons, where they ski, backpack, and camp in the beautiful alpine setting. She enjoys singing and dancing, and likes attending summer music festivals in the mountains. Laurie is going through treatment for Squamous Cell Carcinoma of her tonsils at the Stanford Cancer Center. She hopes to be done with her treatment by the summer, and is looking forward to getting back to doing all these things she loves.
Day 7: I ride for Emily, a mom from my hometown of Orono, Minnesota. Emily has three beautiful daughters, a wonderful husband (who was also treated for cancer) and friends who love her. She is looking forward to spending time outdoors at their lake cabin in Wisconsin this summer. I am also riding for Emily's dad Peter today. Peter, an author and hockey coach, had lung cancer and passed away in 2018.
Day 8: I ride in memory of Bob and Grace Erickson. Bob passed away in 1983, shortly after being diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia, and Grace passed away in 1985 after a 1.5-year battle with ovarian cancer. Many thanks to Steve and Marie for sharing this ride dedication with me and giving me the opportunity to ride in memory of Bob and Grace.
Day 9: I ride Joan Anderson, a 17-year (and counting) cancer survivor! Thank you Joan and Jack for always keeping my mom in your thoughts and for giving me the opportunity to ride for you.
Day 70: When we arrive in Anchorage on day 70, I will be riding for my family, friends, teammates, and everyone we met along the way. I will be riding with hope that someday we will be riding in celebration. I am so grateful for everyone’s encouragement and support! Thank you!