My freshman year of college I joined a non-profit student organization at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign called Illini 4000. As an organization we raise money and awareness about cancer research and patient support services by biking across the country.
As members of the Illini 4000 we value the voices of cancer victims. The Portraits Projects is one aspect of our organization that listens and documents their stories to later share with others. The goal of this is to create a supportive network for every cancer victim. Throughout our ride we will make stops to talk to cancer survivors, family members of patients, and caretakers.
This past summer I had the opportunity to bike from New York City to San Fransisco with a team of 26 other college students. We rode 4,800 miles over a period of 76 days. We all started out as amateur cyclists, but now my team and I have experienced almost all of what the northern United States has to offer. From the skyscrapers in New York City to the mountains in the West, we have been through it all. It was overall breathtaking, both emotionally and physically. There were more than a couple bumps along the road (no pun intended), but we quickly formed into an unbreakable support system for each other. We collected 25 portraits this year, which not only helped connect individuals with others who had similar cancer experiences, but also helped us connect with the individuals that we ride for. We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of those who hosted us along the way. This ride would not have been possible without the host’s hospitality and your support. We made it to San Francisco safely, raised $110,000 for cancer research and patient support services, and made a difference for the 11th year in a row.
When I came back from my trip I told my parents that it was the best decision I ever made in my life so far. It was such a life changing experience that made me grow so much as a person. My passion for Illini 4000 grew tremendously during the last school year and throughout my ride. I’m honored to be heavily involved with Illini 4000 this year as Director of Marketing. Our main focus is organizing campus events, posting on social media, designing I4K apparel and training the next team.
To learn more, check our our website at illini4000.org and follow us on Instagram and Facebook!