TWHS and UT grad Sajatovic biking over 4,000 miles for cancer research
Nick Sajatovic never was much of a cyclist when he lived in The Woodlands – even with the abundance of bike trails. While he considered himself an athlete, Sajatovic joked that he didn’t own anything nicer than a “Walmart bike” in high school.
After graduating from The Woodlands High School in 2013, Sajatovic embarked on his academic career at The University of Texasin Austin to achieve supply chain management and geography degrees. It was during the fall of his freshman year that he learned about an exclusive UT tradition: the Texas 4000.
When Sajatovic first heard the details, he thought it sounded “bizarre” and “crazy.” Texas 4000 bike ride participants train in an 18-month program, ending with a roughly 4,500-mile route from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska.
Texas 4000 members will live minimally for the 70-day ride, only having nine days of rest. To make the route, a cyclist will ride roughly 10 hours and 80 miles in one day.
Throughout the ride, cyclists spread awareness of cancer prevention and support programs, and they are even trained to swab cheeks to get people registered for the Be The Match bone marrow registry. On the ride, the team will stay with host homes, often of those who have been affected by cancer, in donated facilities such as community centers and churches.
However, after thinking about it and arranging his schedule, Sajatovic ultimately chose to “play a more active role in the fight against cancer.”
According to the Texas 4000 website, the Texas 4000 summer ride is considered the longest annual charity bike ride in the world. The nonprofit organization has raised over $7 million for cancer research and support programs.
So far, Sajatovic’s team of 70 fellow students raised roughly $535,000. Sajatovic alone has raised $12,600.
While Sajatovic is thankful to say he has not lost an immediate family member to cancer, it has affected his family and friends. As a child, his mother was diagnosed with skin cancer, but thankfully didn’t have to go through chemotherapy.
While Sajatovic prepares to kick off for his trek on June 2, he learned his high school AP Chemistry teacher Elvira de Pieri, fondly known as “Doc,” recently lost her battle to gallbladder cancer. Sajatovic remembers his teacher as a strong presence at The Woodlands High School.
“That just showed me that cancer can affect anyone you know,” Sajatovic said. “She was really a beloved member of the high school community.”
In honor of de Pieri, a Go Fund Me account was created to build a garden in The Woodlands High School courtyard to “remember her by permanently, and remind everyone of how amazing she was and to remind us on how to be great,” the page’s story reads. At the time of writing, the page raised $8,330 of a $5,000 goal in six days.
Less than a month after Sajatovic graduated from UT May 19, he’ll begin his 70-day journey from Austin to Anchorage. The Sajatovic family, who still reside in The Woodlands, will meet Sajatovic at the finish line in Alaska.
During the tour, Sajatovic said, he and his Texas 4000 teammates ride for people they’ve met and for those they’ve never met. He’ll ride for his mother, his family members and his high school teacher, among many others.
“The longer you’re in the program, you just find more and more people to ride for,” Sajatovic said. “And that’s kind of what gets you through it.”
Written by Kelly Shafler