University of Texas Students Fight Cancer With Bike Ride From Austin to Alaska
Sixty-six University of Texas students are currently on Day 5 of their 70-day bicycle journey to Alaska. Yes, you read correctly - a bike ride from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. Every year the organization known as Texas 4000, founded in 2003, has a large group of UT students volunteer to ride 4,000+ miles in order to raise funds in order to fight cancer. The Texas 4000 is the longest annual charity bike ride in the world, and almost every rider who participates has a story about who they are riding for.
The 66 riders were divided into three groups - one for each route. Through the Sierras, through the Rockies and around the Ozarks.
On Day 2, the group heading towards Ozarks spent the night in Belton at Amazing Grace Bed and Breakfast as they finished their 88-mile ride from College Station.
I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the riders who happens to be assistant ride director, 21-year-old Fred Tally-Foos from Kerrville, TX. He explained that every rider has a personal reason why they're going on this epic trek and that it gets bigger everyday.
We all have reasons why we ride - my grandmother - she was my favorite person in the world. She passed in 2012 from lung cancer. Now that I have this opportunity to give hope and resources - it's the most wonderful experience I've ever had and we’re only 4 days in.
The reason why their reasons get bigger is because donors and supporters will send in names of their loved ones affected by cancer, and those names get mentioned in their pre-ride circle.
Before every ride, the team gets in a circle and announces who or what they're riding for. It's quite a moment.
Debra Schwarz, owner of Amazing Grace, which hosted the team was nothing but impressed by these young adults.
"It was a wonderful experience and it gave us a refreshing look at the younger generations - they were polite, considerate and truly had passion for what they were doing," she said. "To see that kind of dedication is remarkable."
Not everyone can join the Texas 4000, but any UT student can certainly try. To qualify for the official team that rides in the summer, a student must ride a minimum of 2,000 miles for training as well as raise a minimum of $4,500 - about $1 per mile. About 300 volunteered for the 2016 ride initially, and only 66 made the final cut.
"Most of us weren't true cyclists when we applied," said Fred. "It's a big learning curve."
If you would like to meet the other riders making this incredible journey you can find their profiles and amazing stories as to why they ride on their website Texas4000.org.
To get involved by donating or volunteering, you can find all the information here.
The total goal for funds raised in 2016 is $825,000. This group of students is already pushing the envelope with approximately $500,000 donated so far.
We'll be keeping tabs on the team throughout the 70-day journey so keep your eyes peeled for updates. Good luck Texas 4000!