by Jeff Robson
The First-Year Honors Program surrounded me with students who, like me, want to obtain the most out of their college experience. This summer, I am experiencing that exact atmosphere with a group of 29 other students from around the country as we cycle across the United States. We are part of a program called the 4k for Cancer under the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, an organization dedicated to supporting young adults affected by cancer.
On June 1st, my team departed from Baltimore, MD and commenced our 4,000+ mile bike ride to San Francisco, CA. We will reach our destination on August 9th after cycling an average of 75 miles a day, ranging from 30-150 miles a day. However, we don’t only ride our bikes! Along our journey, we have planned service projects that help the cancer community in some way. So far, we have completed paperwork at cancer centers, done yard work at Ronald McDonald Houses and Hope Lodges, handed out chemotherapy care packages and delivered a scholarship to a young adult with cancer with aspirations to attend a university.
We have traveled quite far and have had many hardships, but we committed to this ride for a reason, and that is because we all HATE cancer and have been affected by it. Personally, I dedicated my summer ride to my aunt Danielle who had been battling colon cancer for over 4 years; sadly, she passed away while I was on this adventure, but I keep biking everyday.
One thing Honors taught me is that you need to get “out there.” For me, the 4k for Cancer was the perfect opportunity, and it started well before June 1st. Everyone in the program, before departure, is required to raise $4,500 which was easy for me since it was something I was so passionate about; I have always LOVED cycling and have always HATED cancer. Now that I am on this trip, I hear a new heart-breaking story everyday, and I find it amazing how much people are willing to open up and help. It may seem cliché, but if I were asked to sum up the 4k in a single phrase, I would say “Life-changing!” This has been the most incredible experience of my life; the things I have seen are indescribable, and I agree with Ernest Hemingway when he said that “it is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
The greatest thing I have learned this summer is that anyone and everyone can make a difference; as we say on the 4k, “Cancer changes lives… So do WE!” Please, take my advice and do something that seems “out there,” and even if you don’t think you can, you never know how much you can surprise yourself.