UT students set to ride 4,000 miles to fight cancer

UT students ride during Texas 4000 to fight cancer (KXAN photo)
UT students ride during Texas 4000 to fight cancer (KXAN photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Most people volunteer or donate money to a cause they believe in. Starting Saturday, 70 University of Texas students are biking 4,000 miles to help in the fight against cancer.

Texas 4000 is a UT student and alumni run non-profit that has makes the 4,000 mile trek to Anchorage, Alaska each. Since 2004, the group has raised more than $7 million – the money being donated to cancer research and cancer awareness groups.

“I think the excitement part is, like, at least, finally starting to hit now,” said student Katie Russell. She’s taking the ride’s Sierra Route to Alaska.

There are three routes in all. Sierra takes riders west; Rockies takes riders through the Rocky Mountains; the Ozarks route takes students east briefly before rounding back north and eventually to Alaska.

“My expectation for the ride is that it’s going to be hard,” said Ozarks rider McKay Proctor. “They’re going to be days where I wake up and every part of my body hurts and I’m emotionally drained. In a way, that’s exactly what fighting cancer is like.”

“Like you are always in the middle of it, there’s never a time where you can sort of say, ‘Alright I’m going to check out and not have cancer anymore,'” Proctor said.

Courtney Becker is Texas 4000’s development manager and joined during the 2009 ride. She said the journey is more than a super long bike ride.

“I did the ride because I had lost my mother to cancer and this organization gave me the opportunity to fight back,” Becker said. “I felt so powerless because I’m not a researcher, I’m not a scientist, I couldn’t do anything to help her but through this organization I was able to do a lot in her honor. I felt very empowered.”

Riders will be stopping at several towns and cities along the way, each time spreading cancer awareness and educating the people they meet on the ways to avoid and detect cancer.

“There’s so many things that people can do to either prevent or detect cancer early that we can tell people about when we’re on the road,” Proctor said. “Hopefully, if we leave that lasting impression, one person will catch the cancer early or prevent the cancer and that makes it worth it for me.”

A send-off ceremony is scheduled for around noon Friday on the lawn of the LBJ Presidential Library. There, riders will be celebrated for the ride. They’ll start peddling Saturday afternoon from the same location.

Jorge Rodas looks at why the ride is important to so many UT students LIVE on KXAN News Today on The CW Austin.

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