Over the course of 70 days, a group of students from University of Texas at Austin will trek from Austin, TX to Anchorage, AK on bicycle. The 4,000-mile journey, called Texas 4000, aims to spread awareness for cancer, as well as messages of hope, faith and charity.
Before embarking on the 4,000-mile bicycle journey, all participants must raise $4,500 for the fight against cancer, ride 2,000 training miles with their teams and volunteer more than 50 hours in the community.
Since Texas 4000’s first ride in 2004, over 800 students have raised $9.7 million in the fight against cancer. Last week, 84 students began their journey to Alaska. One of these is University of Texas Alumna Sarah Grace Forbes.
“I’m really hoping to spread knowledge and awareness,” Forbes says. “I’m riding for my dad. He is a survivor of melanoma and the doctors were able to catch it very quickly. I want to make sure that what happened to my family is something that other families know can be treated if caught in time.”
Forbes believes that while cancer has affected each of the riders differently, that it is the factor that unites them. Over the course of their two-month bike ride, Forbes looks forward to continuing to get to know her teammates and hopes to help others affected by cancer.
“There’s a big mental challenge associated with just sitting on a bike for 10 or 11 hours a day,” Forbes says. “But it’s actually really great because you get to know your teammates and why they’re riding for cancer research.”
The Texas 4000 participants are divided into three groups. Those on the Sierra Route will cycle through the Southwest to California, then north along the West Coast and into Canada. Rockies Route bikers will cut over to the Rocky Mountains and bike through the western U.S. before crossing the Canadian border into Alberta. Cyclists on the Ozarks route will cut northeast through the American Midwest before crossing the Canadian border and cycling across four Canadian provinces. Upon arrival to Canada, all 84 riders will reunite and spend the final ten days biking to Anchorage.
“Normally, we stay with friends and families, and other connections we may have in nearby cities,” Forbes says, but sometimes with churches and schools that allow us to use their spaces. My route, the Rockies Route, will actually be camping.”
During her journey, Forbes looks forward to seeing Banff, as well as Western U.S.
“I haven’t really seen much of the American West at all,” Forbes says, “and I think passing through the mountains is going to be amazingly beautiful.”
During the Texas 4000 bike ride, the riders will spread cancer awareness present grants to cancer research and support service organizations including MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center of Seattle and Anchorage Young Cancer Coalition.
“Each of these young women and men are leaders. They understand that leadership is about going where you are needed and doing what needs to be done,” said Scott Crews, Executive Director of Texas 4000 in a press release. “They all have a story of how cancer has touched their life, and for that reason, they have committed to making a difference in the lives of others diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for cancer research and support services.”
To learn more about Texas 4000 and to make a donation, visit texas4000.org.