Cristal’s Story – BE Courageous

Meet Cristal! Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Cristal is a spunky, resilient and big-hearted, daughter, sister, student and inspiration to many.

Cristal’s cancer story began during a college semester abroad in Spain. In the middle of her experience, she began to experience intense pain in her abdomen. She found a local doctor who told her that she needed to go home immediately. When she returned home, Cristal learned she had stage 3 Ewing Sarcoma – a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer. She was pulled away from her peer group, and put through an aggressive treatment that included 17 rounds of chemotherapy, 6 weeks of daily radiation, a major tumor debulking surgery and a lot of time spent in the hospital due to cancer treatment and surgical complications such as a bowel obstruction. It was a quick and scary switch from frolicking the streets of Salamanca, Spain to spending time in a hospital bed fighting for her life.

Throughout this entire process, Cristal never lost sight of her goal of graduating. With an incredible amount of resilience and determination, along with the support of her university, family and friends, she returned to school and graduated a year later, becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree!

Once she was given a clean bill of health, Cristal became determined to reclaim her body after her Cancer experience. She found out about UCF’s Cancer to 5K program – a free 12-week training program for cancer survivors.  Given the opportunity to meet and train with other survivors, Cristal flourished and showed the world that she not only kicked cancer’s butt, but could also run a 5K!

Upon crossing the finish line, Cristal met a member of the UCF staff who suggested she look into the 4K for Cancer program and bike across the country. She initially thought this was inconceivable, but by that June, Cristal had fundraised more than $4,500 for the Ulman Cancer Fund, was well-trained, and ready to start her journey.  With 18 strangers, she hit the road – on her bike – heading out across the United States to support other young adults with cancer.

Cristal’s 4K journey was not an easy one, but it was undoubtedly incredible. She struggled in the beginning, learning how to push her body in a manageable way and how to make friends with these strangers who didn’t know her story yet. Having been isolated from friends and classmates during the two years she was in treatment, Cristal had become apprehensive about interacting with people in her own age group. Her 4K team became a supportive community that allowed Cristal to, in her own words, “catch up” with her peers.

Cristal was tested by times of frustration and challenge, but when asked why she was biking across the country, she would always say the same thing; to show other young adults with cancer that something like this is possible. You can survive and you can take your life back.

Throughout those 70 days, Cristal grew in a multitude of ways. She became an incredibly strong rider. She learned that she had to be patient with her body, but that she could in fact do this. She became one of the fastest riders on the team. She even gained the nickname “Hill Doctor” due to her awesome ability to conquer steep hills at impressive speeds. Even more incredible, however, was how Cristal changed as a person. She began opening up about her story and her struggles in ways she hadn’t done before.

While riding on the long roads of Idaho or Nebraska she would tell her teammates about what she went through and the people she met in the hospital and support groups, who inspired her to fight back against cancer. Each day, she dedicated her ride to a long list of people, including those who had fought cancer, were still fighting, or who had lost their battle. She created lasting bonds with her team, who supported and leaned on each other every second of their journey. One day of the ride, each member of the team surprised Cristal by dedicating their day to her.

While on the 4K, Cristal celebrated one year of being cancer free – her “Cancer-versary” as she called it. It is a testament to her persistence and strength that she was conquering this journey less than a year out of treatment. Throughout the 70 days of the 4K for Cancer, Cristal laughed and cried, fixed flat tires, and danced her way up hills.  On August 12th, she rode across the Golden Gate Bridge next to 18 of her best friends, officially completing her 4,000 mile journey from coast to coast.

The programs of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults helped Cristal to reboot her life after cancer, changing her perspective and connecting her with a community of support that became her family.

Donate to Be Day https://tinyurl.com/y8btb4mz

4K Update: Halfway There!

 

Every Mile Matters

It was just about a month ago that our 4K for Cancer teams began cycling and running across the country. We’re excited to keep you updated as our riders and runners approach the halfway point of their journeys!

It is extremely powerful to see the relationships that they have formed in a just a few short weeks together. Together as a team, they have ensured that Every Mile Matters. 

To date, the 4K for Cancer has:

  • Awarded 8 scholarships to young adults impacted by cancer
  • Visited 10 cancer centers to provide support to those in treatment
  • Delivered 140 chemo care bags to patients
  • Covered 15,076 collective miles
  • Raised over $730,093 for the young adult cancer fight!

Follow the teams through an interactive map on their web pages and access all their mail drop locations!

4K for Cancer Blog Highlights

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Our 4K runs and rides have begun for 2015. The participants in these great trips are writing their own blog posts about their travels. Here are some of the best blog posts from the various runs and rides.

SAN FRANCISCO TO BALTIMORE RUN

FIRST DAY! 1 OF 49: VACAVILLE, CA

Corryn Wheatley describes her first day on her trip from San Francisco to Baltimore. She talks about getting to know her teammates and the post includes a great picture with the Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop.

SAN FRANCISCO TO NEW YORK RUN

DAY 1: FOR CHARLOTTE & FOR SANDY

Laura Grau reports on her first day from San Francisco in her post. She describes what and who was inspiring her to run and talks about the beautiful San Francisco scenery she and her group ran through.

BALTIMORE TO PORTLAND RIDE

DAY #1

Zachary Ross lets us know how his first day went. He provides a funny story about his friend and offers some stats on his trip so far. He also posted two pictures of his team on the road.

BALTIMORE TO SEATTLE RIDE

WEEK 2

Devon Callagy provides some highlights of her second week in her trip to Seattle. The post includes food donations, some great hosts and meeting Doug Ulman.

BALTIMORE TO SAN DIEGO RIDE

4K UPDATE (SAN DIEGO): HELLO WORLD!

Before beginning his trip, Dustin Query posted a poem he wrote about his trip titled “The 4K Endeavor”. It is very nicely written and something worth looking at.

BALTIMORE TO SAN FRANCISCO RIDE

THE SECOND STRETCH: CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA TO KNOXVILLE, TN

Jamie Burke tells us a range of short stories from his trip so far, ranging from staying at a church to meeting someone who knows his astronomy advisor.

A Letter From Team Portland

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Dear Ulman and 4K Family and Friends,

To state what must be painfully obvious, those of us on Team Portland 2014 will never forget the day of Jamie Roberts’ passing. As news of her accident and death spread among the scattered riding groups, not much in the world mattered to us besides our fallen teammate. As we vanned or even hitchhiked to the hospital, hugs were exchanged and tears flowed freely. As we tended to our teammates who were in Jamie’s riding group, it took every bit of strength we had left to prevent ourselves from being shattered into pieces by grief.

Cruelly accompanying our grief was utter uncertainty about the future of our team. We had no idea what would happen for the rest of the day, let alone whether we would get back on our bikes or ever ride into Portland together. In our moment of anguish, some of us thought that Team Portland’s ride would be cancelled for 2014, that we would be told that it would be too difficult to keep riding, too complicated to support ourselves after this tragedy, and that it would be easier for everyone to go home to grieve on their own. So that’s where we stood on June 13, 2014, stricken with grief and uncertain about our future.

But now four weeks have passed and we stand in a very different place. We have been transformed not only as a team, but also as individuals.  The purpose and meaning behind our ride is also transformed, because now we ride for more than just our own family and friends. Now each morning when we form our dedication circle, we also ride for Jamie, her family and friends, and all the individuals for whom she was riding. Of course from time to time we continue to shed tears for our beloved teammate, and we have moments when we agonize over why this tragedy has happened. But although this tragedy has hurt us, we are being healed and made even stronger than we were before.  We have begun the slow but steady process of not only mourning our loss of Jamie, but also appreciating just how much she inspired us in the fight against cancer in just the two short weeks we spent with her. Now we talk about her with smiles on our faces, and laugh about the times that she ate mac and cheese and watermelon together or told us that her favorite food was hot dogs, “because they’re juicy.”

But we would like to make it abundantly clear that we have not come to this place by our team’s strength alone. As much as we have come to this place as a team, we have also been brought here by all of you and your support. To the greatest extent possible, we as a team would like to express our thanks for all that you have done, from the smallest to the biggest acts of kindness that has made it possible for us to come this far on our journey.

We want to thank the Roberts Family for not only asking us to continue our ride to Portland, but also meeting and comforting us by sharing memories of Jamie, though their suffering is far greater than our own. We thank them for inviting us to partake in Jamie’s Celebration of Life Service and providing more pigs in blankets than (maybe) even Jamie could eat. We thank Mr. Bob Roberts for his repeated references to Forrest Gump that help us realize how fleeting but precious life can be.  We thank Jamie’s sister Julia for the daily quotes that inspire us in the mornings and remind us of Jamie’s strength and perseverance.

We thank Jamie’s friends, teammates, teachers, and colleagues for sharing even more embarrassing and silly stories of Jamie and allowing us to feel closer to her.

We thank the Ulman Staff for their tireless efforts: Krissy Kraczkowsky and Brock Yetso for arriving so quickly after the accident and finding grief counselors and therapy dogs for us on such short notice, Brian Satola for driving three hours with one of our teammates to look for a lost backpack and being generous (or foolish) enough to open up his home and family to our team smells and dirty laundry, Nicole Considine for biking into Chicago with us and not letting us get in the charter bus until she had a chance to hug us, Stephen Hersey and Nate Wineland for coming along with us to transport all of our luggage and bikes, and all other Ulman and 4K staff who met us in Maryland and offered us words of kindness and love.

We thank all of the 4K parents who helped us feel more at home by sending or bringing baked goods and candy, which by the way we eat even when not biking.  We thank the parents who made all of us feel like part of a big family by hugging not only their own children, but also those of us whose own parents couldn’t make it in person to Maryland.  We’d like to extend special thanks to a certain father who sent a mysterious looking package that ended up being filled with noisemakers and whistles and fake mustaches (for the ladies, as per Mr. Lake’s very specific instructions) that made us laugh.

We thank the 4K San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Running Teams for their comradery as fellow 4K teammates and for continuing to ride or run to raise awareness on behalf of the seventy thousand young adults diagnosed with cancer each year.

We thank the 4K alumni for empathizing with our sorrow and offering their assistance in so many ways as part of the larger 4K family.

We thank our friends at the Navigator Management Partners for their letters of kind words and sympathy.  We thank Barry Sherry for offering us not only guidance through the Appalachian Mountains, but also sympathy as we recover from this tragedy.  We thank teams from Bike and Build and Texas 4000 for letting us know that we are in their hearts. We thank Ryan Pierce for returning to us so quickly and helping us grieve once he heard news of the accident.

We thank Seth and Amanda Hoxworth for their incredible generous donation of tubes and tires and other gear.

We thank all of those participating in “Miles for Jamie” for helping increase Jamie’s total miles to extend not only to Portland but even beyond and practically into outer space.

We thank all of those who donated to the Ulman Cancer Fund in Jamie’s honor and helped her shatter the 4K fundraising record.

We thank all of our hosts, past, present, and future, for making this trip logistically possible through so many hot showers and meals and roofs over our heads.

We thank all of those who are unnamed here, from staff and parents and friends doing things that we may not be able to see at this moment to complete strangers who upon hearing our story emptied their wallets to donate to our team and Jamie’s memory. We may never meet you in person but we would like for you to know that we truly appreciate your support.

As we look towards the rest of our journey, we know that you will be there with us, providing the tailwind that motivates us to continue when the days are long and the sun is beating down on us. Your support has already helped carry us up and down the Appalachian Mountains and sail across the plains (and unexpected hills) of the Midwest.  We will think of you as we wind up the switchbacks of the Rocky Mountains and when we reach the highest peaks of our climb we will remember that it is more than just our legs that put us there.

When we cross into Oregon and finally dip our front tires into the waters of the Pacific, we will be grateful to you for helping us cross the nation, coast-to-coast, ocean-to-ocean. And although on that fateful day in mid-June we were nearly overcome by grief and uncertainty, we have no doubt that with your love and support, on August 9, 2014 we will all ride into Pioneer Square filled with joy and laughter and in a manner worthy of Jamie Roberts, aka the “Dancin’ Lobsta’.”

Love,

4K Team Portland 2014

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Follow the progress of Team Portland as they make their way across America here:

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You can contribute to Jamie’s fundraising efforts by following the button below. Support the mission of bettering the lives of young adults, and their loved ones, affected by cancer that Jamie cared so much about. Cancer changes lives…SO DO WE!

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{STATEMENT} by Ulman Cancer Fund CEO Brock Yetso on the loss of 4K for Cancer Rider Jamie Roberts

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June 13, 2014

STATEMENT BY ULMAN CANCER FUND CEO BROCK YETSO ON
THE LOSS OF 4K FOR CANCER RIDER JAMIE ROBERTS

“It is with the deepest sadness that the Ulman Cancer Fund faces the loss of Jamie Roberts. This passionate young woman, so precious to her family and loved ones, lost her life in a tragic accident today as she rode across America to raise funds and awareness for young adults fighting cancer. Jamie’s selflessness, her commitment to serving others and her deep devotion to her friends, family and fellow riders was apparent to everyone who knew her. All of us at the Ulman Cancer Fund extend our deepest condolences to Jamie’s family, whose grief must be boundless at this time. We, and all of our 4K for Cancer riders, will carry Jamie’s memory with us in our hearts as we continue serving the mission that Jamie cared so deeply about.”

Jamie died this afternoon from injuries sustained when she was struck by a vehicle while changing a bicycle tire in Scott County outside of Lexington, KY. Another rider sustained non-life threatening injuries in the incident. While the Roberts family has expressed their hope that 4K for Cancer riders will be able to continue their journeys, the Ulman Cancer Fund plans to provide immediate assistance to any rider who desires to return home. All of the riders are suspending their ride for the next 48 hours to honor the loss of their teammate, and a member of the Ulman Cancer Fund’s staff is joining each of the teams to provide support. We ask that any inquiries be directed to Brock Yetso at (410) 964-0202 *101 and request privacy for Jamie’s family at this time as they come to terms with this tragedy.

The Roberts family wishes for any donations to be made to The Ulman Cancer Fund in honor of Jamie Roberts and the 4K for Cancer Portland Team. Donations can be made at http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/jamie-roberts

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National Cancer Survivor Day: An Interview with Erika Oertle

 

June 1st is National Cancer Survivor Day! And while we celebrate our survivors everyday at here UCF, today we take a moment to recognize the amazing people who have battled cancer, beaten it, and now give their time and energy to help others impacted. One such person is Erika Oertle, a thyroid cancer survivor, who has just left today for the 4k for Cancer‘s cross country, 70 day bike ride. Before Erika left for her trip from Baltimore to San Diego, we were able to set up a short interview and ask some questions about her cancer journey and her bike journey to come.

 

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What type of cancer were you diagnosed with, and when did you receive your diagnosis?

I received my diagnosis in late August 2010 as I entered my senior year of high school.  The type of cancer I had was thyroid cancer.  Because it was caught very early, I am fortunate enough not to have taken the radioactive iodine that most thyroid patients have to.

 

 

 

What events lead up to your diagnosis, or, how did you discover what you were suffering from was cancer?

 

The only symptom I had was a large mass on my neck.  I thank my mother for noticing it and being very proactive and getting me to the right doctors so quickly.

 

 

Obviously, cancer puts your whole life on hold. Do you remember a specific moment when you were hit by this realization?

 

Yes, indeed it does. I remember vividly the day I came home from soccer practice and my parents were in the kitchen.  They asked me to sit down and they explained to me that the mass on my neck was that of thyroid cancer.  I was very very confused and nervous & upset. However, after speaking to my sister who lives in Baltimore and is in the medical field as well as many of my friends, I began to get a grasp on what exactly happened and that “if we had to choose a cancer- thyroid is the one to choose as the survival rate is 98%. With many friends and family calling and telling me this information, it seemed to have calmed me down a bit. But just knowing cancer had struck was devastating in itself.

 

 

How long were you in treatment? What helped keep your spirits up and gave you support during this period?

 

My treatment consisted of weekly visits to the doctor to monitor my blood/thyroid levels. Then it moved to monthly. Now it’s every six months. I will continue to monitor my thyroid levels for the rest of my life. Looking back, I can honestly say the best thing that kept my spirits up were the positive people in my life and hearing all of the uplifting stories from doctors/nurses and family members. The take away from this horrible diagnosis is that “EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON”. We are given so many chances in life and this proved to me that my life wasn’t over here, I would overcome this and live on to share my story with others. Inspiring them to stay healthy, active, and aware that cancer can truly change a person’s life for the worst or even for the best, like it did to my own.

 

 

You’re about to embark on a journey across America! Is there anything you’re a little nervous about? What are you looking forward to most on your trip?

Haha, well there is a lot I’m definitely nervous about. First of them being just not knowing what to expect. On a bike for 70 days, riding 4,000 miles with 30 people who I’m not that familiar with, it will definitely not be easy. Also, I really like to eat so I hope there is no shortage of food or water. There are not many people that can say that they have rode 4,000 miles across the country in 70 days in the name of cancer. Another thing is being away from family and friends for such a long period of time. I was able to manage it and couldn’t wait to get away when I went off to college; however, this is a little bit different. This summer is definitely going to be an eye opening, remarkable, and unforgettable life experience and I cannot wait to embark upon with 30 other determined, young, and driven individuals.

 

As a survivor, what are your thoughts about biking across the country while rallying support for young adults currently in treatment? Would an event like this bolster your spirits while you were in treatment? 

 

Well, as a survivor and a first timer, I’m honored to be chosen for this ride. Riding as a survivor is going to be a thrilling experience and I take so much pride in spreading awareness for this horrible disease. Cancer has not only affected my own life, but as well as many of my close family members and friends. If I was a cancer patient knowing that one of my friends was doing this, I would be so proud that there are individuals out there willing to fight and spread awareness for people like me who are battling the worst.

 

 

On National Survivors Day we celebrate individuals like yourself and their triumphs over cancer. Is there anything you’d like to say to UCF’s community of survivors who are supporting you and your cause this summer? 

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the cancer community, especially the 4K team and the Ulman Cancer Fund for giving me this opportunity to be a rider for this upcoming 2014 trip. I would also like to share a bit of wisdom with those suffering from cancer, overcoming their battle with cancer, or just anyone willing to be inspired. Yes cancer stinks and its never fun knowing that you have it, but we only live once and as a survivor, I want everyone to know that your family, friends, and the people you surround yourselves with are the best remedy. Cancer does not always kill, it is the negative attitude that you have when you are battling cancer. When going through my treatment, it was the positive words from my mother and the smiles from my dad and sister that helped me push through the worst. Always remember to keep your head up, smile, and know that every little thing is going to be alright. If it means biking 4,000 miles across America this summer, I will do everything and anything to put a smile on a child’s face who is battling cancer, because cancer has taught me that this is the only life we are given so we might as well live it to the fullest.

 

Follow Erika’s and the dozens of other 4K riders as they travel across America this summer at 4k for Cancer. And reach out to each and every cancer survivor you know today and let them know that their family, friends and community will never let them fight alone. Cancer Changes Lives…So Do We!

 

BikeRack Chat: Interview with 4K Ride Directors

The 4K for Cancer ride send off is finally here! Starting Sunday morning and lasting until the ninth of August over one hundred young adults will be riding from Baltimore to the West Coast. We reached out to the Ride Directors, those riders who stepped up and took a leadership position, and asked them to join us for an interview. Emily Ewing (San Diego Ride Director), Aaron Hoxworth (Portland Ride Director), Shelby Perkins (Seattle Ride Director) and George “Eric” Knapp (San Diego Ride Director) took time out of their 4k preparation to share their thoughts on their upcoming journey.

There is a lot of appeal to a supported bike trip across America. On top of that, the 4K for Cancer offers the amazing opportunity where riders can benefit to lives of those impacted by cancer. Everyone who takes part of a ride has their own reasons for doing so. When asked why she was doing the ride Ewing explained, “I knew three people that participated in 2013 Team San Diego and became incredibly inspired to make a difference just like they did. I, like most, have been affected by cancer in many ways so it was a cause that really spoke to me.” Hoxworth said he was drawn to the 4k because, “I was checking into the organization and the event for a friend who was deciding whether or not she wanted to participate in the 4k. After reading about the cause and the event, I fell in love with the opportunity. I wanted to dedicate my summer to fighting for something great; to challenging myself; and to scoping out the rest of the United States I have never seen before. I wanted an adventure that went beyond myself.” Some, like Perkins, join the 4K looking for a life changing experience. “The past few summers, I have seen classmates join the 4K, expect a really cool ride, and come back with a different world view. The changes within them are difficult to quantify but reflect a newfound faith in the world, trust in people, and desire to help enact change. Seeing these inspiring changes was enough to convince me last fall that my post-college confused phase should include biking across the country and working to help others”, she said.

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Emily Ewing, San Diego Ride Director

Unfortunately, almost everyone has some connection to cancer. Each of the directors have some kind of friend or family member who has battled the disease. Knapp sees his cancer connection as his motivation for joining the ride. “I have had two close family members who have had and survived cancer. They are my inspiration….Early in the year I went to visit a close family member who has had an ongoing battle with cancer. Before that visit I had heard of 4K and always thought it would be a cool thing to do. However, after that day I came home and it all clicked and decided I needed to do it for myself, and for others.” Hoxworth, who is also riding for very inspirational family member, states, “Although I have been fortunate to have only a few encounters with cancer throughout my life, the most significant encounter is life-changing. My hero, my grandpa on my dad’s side of the family, survived two quadruple bypass surgeries in his old age, battled with cancer multiple times before he pass away from stage 4 prostate cancer. He was the best man I have ever known and I strive to have the courage, strength, and faith that he exuded on a daily basis. Upon signing up for the 4k, I reminisced about my grandpa and all the time I was unable to spend with him – I knew I had to participate in this ride for him.” Perkins has seen cancer infiltrate the lives of her peers and bring down those in the prime of their lives. “I’m riding this summer for a fellow alumna from my high school, Chastity Dunnaville. Chas was a few years older than myself and a role model for everyone at our school before heading off to the Naval Academy for college. Soon after graduation, she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that eventually claimed her life. Chas’s death was a reality check in my life of how cancer doesn’t discriminate and can take down even those people you think are invincible,” she says. Ewing has seen both family and friends affected, commenting that “My first true experience with cancer was in 7th grade. One of my good friends was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma and it really affected our entire school community. Then came my aunt with Breast Cancer, and my mom with stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Additionally, I’ve seen many, many friends suffer from the loss of a loved one due to cancer. I don’t think you can meet anyone that isn’t affected by cancer in some way.” 

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Aaron Hoxworth, Portland Ride Director

For many, the 4K grants the opportunity to travel the country for the first time. And everyone has some sight they’re excited to see. “I’m fairly certain that I will be crying of happiness when we get to Glacier National Park. Pictures of this park from 4K alumni are what made me choose the Seattle route in the first place and already make me really emotional so I apologize in advance to anyone riding with me that day for the inevitable tears.”, says Perkins. Ewing is “very excited to get to go to the beach in Pensacola and then ride down the coast of the Gulf of Mexico for a few days until we reach New Orleans.” Though some can’t decide on just one thing and are looking forward to bike through whole stretches of the states. “I am most excited to bike through Colorado, Yellowstone National Park, the very small portion of Montana, and, of course, Portland.”, says Hoxworth. Knapp is “…a huge fan of deep-south blues music…”, and is “…very excited to bike through the south in general.”

 

 

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Shelby Perkins, Seattle Ride Director

To help lead a group of college aged adults across America is a huge undertaking. We asked the directors why they decided to jump into a leadership role and what they can offer their teams. “I tend to be the one to take charge in a group and know that I can trust myself to get something done. I wanted to be really invested in the ride, more than just riding everyday…. I hope to make the trip as safe and as fun as possible for everyone, while still promoting the 4K/Ulman mission”, says Ewing. Hoxworth responded that, “I knew that I could perform my duties well and I love facilitating teamwork and bringing a team closer, encouraging them to work together harmoniously,” and that he “…want[s] to offer my team a sense of assuredness to my team – that, no matter what the situation, it will be taken care of and the team will be led into the right decisions.” Perkins sees herself as a natural morale booster, and she says that she, “…hope[s] that my teammates can come to me with any concerns they have either regarding the trip or themselves and all of us can help each other to open our hearts and practice compassion throughout the trip.” And Knapp is confident to act as an, “…unbiased, understanding, and transparent leader. Everyone will have a voice and I will do my best at being as effective and efficient as possible through good group communication.”

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George “Eric” Knapp, San Diego Ride Director

So if you’re in the Baltimore area this Sunday at 7am, come down to the Inner Harbor’s Amphitheater for the 4K send off! To those supports who already plan on attending our directors wanted to take a moment to say a few words of appreciation. “Thank you SO much for everything. I have continued to be amazed at how many people are willing to donate, share my blog updates, and even offer to host us. The hosts that we have secured have been so welcoming to us and it makes me really excited to meet them. This trip would not be possible without the generosity of everyone’s friends and family, and even the strangers we encounter.” “Thank you so much for believing in me to do something unlike anything I have ever even dreamed of doing. With your constant support and encouragement, I feel so uplifted, as if I can conquer the world. I will make it and I will come back!” “I just want to give all of my love to everyone who has supported me in this ridiculous crazy adventure I’m about to embark on. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people who encourage me to have adventures and discover myself while also focusing on helping others and the 4K is the perfect opportunity to do that. I wish I could hug and kiss everyone who has donated to my trip, given me positive reinforcement, or helped me figure out clip in pedals and y’all will be getting lots of postcards and snapchats during the trip to make sure you don’t forget about me.” “THANK YOU! This truly is an amazing group of people who are beinf selfess to help others. Cancer changes lives, and so do we!”

 

 

 

4K Participants Already Touching Communities

“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

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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…

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“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.”

 

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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!

Eleanore (Elli) Stevens – Seattle Ride

Jeff Robson- San Francisco Ride

Emma Rando – San Francisco Ride

Kelsey Taylor – Portland Ride

Victor Landreth – Portland Ride

Jovia Manzie – San Francisco Run

Emily Lipsitz – Portland Ride

 

 

Extra Extra! 2014 4K Press from Around the Nation!

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2013 Seattle cyclists at the 4K Send Off event in Baltimore

This week our 4K For Cancer program has been receiving press from just about every corner of the states. Both cyclists and runners for the 2014 cross country trips have been praised by various local media sources – highlighting their cause and rallying support from their communities. The participants interviewed were all given an opportunity to share their connections to cancer and their reasons for joining the 4K. One of cyclists covered was our summer 2013 Team Fight intern, Erica Johnson, who has been effected by cancer in several ways but specifically mentioned a close friend, and young adult, facing cancer who Johnson will be riding for this summer. “‘Being so close in age with Beth, I have learned to accept that anything can happen to anyone, anytime, regardless of age,’ Johnson said. ‘Although these times were traumatic and emotional, part of me is thankful for the invaluable lessons I have learned.'” (The Dallas Post) This summer will be an amazing experience for these young adults as they inspire and unite communities in the fight against cancer.

Check out the follow articles and share them with friends. Cancer changes lives, so can you!

Erica Johnson, San Francisco Cyclist – Times Leader
Kenzie Miller, Runner – Issaquah Press
Emily Lake, Portland Cyclist – TriTown News
Katie Hinchen, Runner – North Jersey News

Catonsville resident to return home July 14 after 4,000-mile run for cancer

The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adult’s 4K for Cancer run team is set to arrive back in Baltimore on Sunday, July 14th at Federal Hill Park beginning at 2:00 p.m. Details can be found here.

The Baltimore Sun has been covering the journey of our runners.  Here’s an excerpt for the latest piece:

“He has less than a week to go before he arrives in Baltimore and the finish of the Ulman Cancer Fund’s inaugural 4K for Cancer run and Catonsville resident Kevin McClellan is exhausted.

McClellan, 21, has been running 12 miles almost every day since he and his teammates began their journey of more than 4,000 miles from San Francisco on June 15.

The trip will culminate with an arrival ceremony at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at Federal Hill Park.

As of July 5, McClellan said he has been hampered by a host of injuries as his body struggled to cope with the daily stress of running nearly half the distance of a marathon every day.4K Run Team
“Running is kind of hard at the moment,” he added. “I’ve been doing walking days.”

He said the daunting runs have taken a toll on his teammates as well, potentially affecting the outcome of their trip.

Despite injuries, McClellan said the group has been able to enjoy the trip and meet the trip’s goal to spread awareness about cancer treatment.”

By Julie Baughman, jbaughman@tribune.com