Biking and Running Towards a Cure: Fighting cancer across the country

By Katie Wilhelm

Image from 4kforcancer.org

Seventy days. 4,000 miles. Two coasts. Next summer, three UMD students will travel from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific on bicycles and one more will run from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic, all in a fight against cancer.

The 4K for Cancer is a program through the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults in which riders and runners will raise a minimum of $4,500 for the fund, which aids young adults fighting cancer, according to their website.

Five teams of approximately 30 college students each have been formed according to the program: Team Portland, Team San Diego, Team San Francisco, Team Seattle and the Running Team.

Rachael Callahan feels prepared as she looks ahead to the upcoming summer on Team Seattle.

“I’m really excited for the service I’m doing,” the senior Arabic and government and politics major said. “It’s not really for myself. I’m confident that I can get more than my goal, which is $6,000.”

Team Seattle will depart Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and feature stops at Niagara Falls, the Great Lakes, Yellowstone and the North Cascades in Washington before concluding the journey in Pikes Place Market in Seattle, according to the 4K for Cancer website.

Sophomore Evan Sluder found out about the 4K at the First Look Fair and now has personal inspiration to serve as motivation for his summer on Team San Francisco.

“Over the summer one of my family friends battled cancer and passed away,” Sluder, who is enrolled in letters and sciences, said. “I’m doing this in his memory.”

Team San Francisco will also begin at the Inner Harbor, and will travel through the Appalachians and the Rockies before ending with a ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, according to the 4K for Cancer website.

Beyond taking spin classes with the other UMD 4K participants, Chelsea Johnson is focusing on fundraising for her trip on Team Portland.

“I plan on begging everyone I know for money through Facebook and calling relatives,” Johnson, who is also enrolled in letters and sciences, said.

Team Portland also leaves from the Inner Harbor, stopping along the way in several states including Illinois, Colorado and Wyoming, according to the 4K for Cancer website.

While the other three participants will start each day by preparing their bicycles, sophomore Alex Marion will be lacing his sneakers as part of the Running Team.

“I’m excited by the thought of doing something that will be so challenging physically and mentally,” the art and computer science major said. “I know it’s going to be very difficult but that’s a large part of why I’m doing it.”

The Running Team begins its journey in San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge, running in pairs for about eight miles a day before ending in the Inner Harbor, according to the 4K for Cancer website.

Each and every participant in the 4K is intrinsically motivated to take on such a difficult physical and emotional challenge, which is part of the core of the program.

“We are not just a cross-country journey—but instead a movement of young adults making our way cross country to attack this disease head on,” the 4K for Cancer website states. “We believe in the power of building a team and supporting our fellow participants. No one will be left alone or behind and we will support each other during the difficult times. We are the 4K for Cancer.”

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