“My biggest goal…is to let as many people as I can know about the 4K For Cancer. A lot of the events I put together try to target the most people and get out into the community.”
-Nathalia “Nat” Gibbs
Nathalia “Nat” Gibbs
Last Saturday, while at the Waverly Farmer’s Market in Northeast Baltimore, I was (pleasantly) surprised to find someone sporting a 4K training jersey. While on top a spin bike, she addressed a small crowd about the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund and 4K. The rider, Nathalia (Nat) Gibbs – who will be on the San Francisco trip, explained why she was on a bike at the farmer’s market, answering questions and entertaining passers-by, without breaking pace on her bike. A few days later I was able to get in touch with Nat and ask some questions about her fundraising efforts. Once again I was (pleasantly) surprised to learn that for Nat spreading awareness about young adults facing cancer is as, and maybe more, important to her as making her fundraising goals. According to her, “Fundraising has definetly been interesting. My biggest goal, besides raising as much as possible, is to let as many people as I can know about the 4K for Cancer. A lot of the events I put together try to target the most people and get out into the community. Last week at the Waverly Farmers market, I hooked up a trainer to my bike and rode for about 5 hours. People would watch and questions were inevitable so it was a great opportunity to talk about the Ulman Fund and where the money goes. I met so many cancer survivors, bike enthusiasts, and hopefully 4K converts! It was a great experience. I’ve done bake sales, pasta nights and gift wrapping events and those have really been great too.”
Nat stumbled on to the 4K, like a lot of the participants, through word of mouth, “I originally heard it from a friend of mine who had gone a couple of years ago and is actually participating again this year. She didn’t say much about it actually, just that the 4K was wonderful and had changed her life. I went home thinking about whether or not I had it in me to ride across the country and I really didn’t know. So I decided to try it and haven’t looked back once!” Nat’s background includes a medical and personal connection to cancer, giving her an interesting relationship to the disease. When asked what fuels her determination to complete the San Francisco ride she responded…
“A couple of things actually. Originally, before I knew about the Ulman Fund and it’s involvement, I thought of it as just a challenge. It was, to me at least, something I’d never considered doing before and I’m all about forcing myself out of my comfort zone. Once I actually read about the 4K and the Ulman Fund, I couldn’t think of a reason not to go. I do research at Johns Hopkins Hospital and because of that and what I study I’m always looking at cancer in such a sterile and scientific way. My mother’s aunt, who I’m fairly close to, had just found out that for the fourth time, her ovarian cancer was recurring. I called her to talk, and while on the phone I realized that I didn’t know what to say to her. I didn’t realize that I had lost touch with the cancer community and I didn’t want things to stay like that. I thought the 4K would be a great way to get out there and immerse myself in the community and connect with people out there facing, or who have faced cancer. Cancer has has a big role in shaping my family unfortunately, and I felt that I should be giving back a lot more.”
So far Nat has been able to connect with many individuals impacted by cancer, which is always bittersweet but has been positive according to Nat. “I feel like everywhere I go I meet some one new, and its so hard not to connect to such a great cause. I’ve had people tell me about losing their children to cancer and others tell me about meeting cancer survivors while being on the Race Across America. I’ve even convinced a few people to try and apply for next year’s 4K. The cancer community is so large and welcoming and strong. I’m so happy to be apart of it . When you really take the time to talk about the 4k and share your passion, everyone feels tied to it.”
Like Nat, many of this year’s 4K participants are using public events and spaces to not only bolster their fundraising efforts, but spread awareness about young adults facing cancer and their need for support. From benefit concerns, to bake sales and raffles, to fundraising parties the 4K riders and runners are creating platforms wherever they can to share their stories and the importance of their journey across the country. And they’ve been generating a lot of press in the process as well. Check out some of the below media release spreading the good word about the 4K participants! And head over to our fundraising page to support Nathalia and the rest of our amazing cyclists and runners this year. Cancer Changes Lives…SO DO WE!