According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer claimed the lives of 562,875 people in the United States last year. This summer, senior Chris Bolesta and freshman Maria Mercurio will embark on a journey to commemorate those people, provide support for their friends and families, give hope to those who are fighting, and celebrate those who have overcome the disease.
While many of us look forward to spending the summer in lawn chairs, Bolesta and Mercurio will spend two of their summer months on the seat of a bike while riding across the country from Baltimore, Maryland to San Francisco with an organization called 4K for Cancer. Along the way, their team will stop in various communities to raise awareness about cancer.
Of his decision to join the San Francisco ride, Bolesta states, “I’ve always loved biking and thought it would be an amazing opportunity for me. I’ve also known a number of people that have passed away from cancer, or have won their fight against it. Many of my friends have been affected by cancer in some way as well, so I decided that I would ride to give them strength and hope as well.”
Long before the physical journey across the country begins, riders are challenged to raise $4,500 for cancer research. Mercurio says that for her, the process has involved calling businesses and asking for donations from friends, family and community members. She has also made brochures and utilized Facebook to raise awareness about her goal.
“Raising the money is pretty self-run,” she explains. “I think that accomplishing it on your own makes raising the money more meaningful.”
Bolesta has been using similar methods to raise money and also plans on “getting in touch with all of the chapters of [his] Fraternity (Phi Kappa Sigma) as well as local chapters of other Greek organizations on campus for donations.”
Another aspect of preparation is physical training. Both riders have been focusing on biking and core exercises in order to gain the muscle and endurance necessary for riding for long periods of time. 4K for Cancer has also organized day-long bike rides in order to help riders get used to long rides in a large pack.
Once on the ride, participants will pass through new communities each day with the goal of spreading positivity and knowledge. Bolesta cites “cancer education programs, health screenings, and visiting cancer patients at hospitals” as just a few ways riders will help to brighten the towns they visit.
Even though we cannot physically join Mercurio and Bolesta on this inspiring quest, McDaniel students can help 4K for Cancer’s cause through monetary donations.
“Part of being a functioning member of society is giving back, whether through time or money,” states Mercurio.
Bolesta agrees, saying, “Doing anything to help the fight against cancer, even something as little as donating $1 to an organization or to our rider funds, helps to make a difference.”
To donate to individual rider funds, check out https://4kforcancer.donortools.com/my/funds/14840-Rider-Fund-Chris-Bolesta to donate to Chris Bolesta and https://4kforcancer.donortools.com/my/funds/14874-Rider-Fund-Maria-Mercurio in order to donate to Maria Mercurio.