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Raising Cancer Awareness One Pedal at a Time

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One of my favourite things recently has been watching people’s eyes widen with disbelief as I tell them the adventure I am taking part in this summer. When you mention to people that you are planning to ride a bike 4000 miles across America in 70 days, they tend to be a little surprised! Many people can’t believe what I’m doing, and sometimes I can’t even believe that I have committed to do what will probably be the biggest physical callenge of my life time. I often get told, "You’re going to be in such great shape!" or "Your hockey legs are going to get even stronger!" or "You’re going to look so amazing when it’s over!" (we actually did the math, and I will be burning somewhere close to 240,000 calories this summer on my bike). So, while YES, all of those statements are true, unfortunately I’m not just biking across the country for the heck of it. Shockingly, people don’t just choose to bike 4000 miles across America for fun… and if you do… all the power to you, but normal people don’t just do that! There is a much bigger picture behind what I am doing, and I am just a tiny, tiny piece of a very large puzzle.

This summer, from May 31st to August 8th, I will be biking 4000 miles from Baltimore, MD to San Francisco, CA in order to raise cancer awareness. There are four different teams of 30 riders who will also be participating in the ride. We are all biking as a part of a program called 4K for Cancer. We are all biking with the same goal in mind, to help change the lives of those affected by cancer in the cancer community. We all have connections to the cancer community and every person I have met so far on this journey has been an inspiration. Personally, I will be riding for three different family members. I will be riding for both of my grandfathers. My mother’s dad passed away when she was nine years old from lung cancer, and my father’s dad passed away in 2007 from liver cancer. Also, while I have been preparing for this adventure, I unfortunately recieved new inspiration. A few months ago, my three-year-old cousin, Otis Spencer, was diagnosed with brain cancer. At the moment he is the youngest of three children, but is soon to be a new older brother of a new baby (congratulations to my cousin, Alex)! He is currently in his fourth cycle of chemotherapy, and he is doing very well! He is a very strong little boy. Every day we ride we will be writing the names of a cancer fighter with Sharpie on our arms and legs to remind us why we are doing what we are doing. I will be dedicating three days to Otis and my grandfathers, and I have also been collecting the names of other fighters who I will honor each day of my ride!

I will be riding on Team San Francisco for The 4K for Cancer program, which was created by a non-profit organization called The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. This organization is truly AMAZING. When people think about cancer, they think of: chemo, medication, clinical trials, and research. What people do not usually think of is every other aspect of a cancer patient’s life including: stress, finding resources, putting life on hold, getting to appointments, affording appointments, support groups, mentors, counsellors, education, activities in hospitals, making friends and connections, and most importantly the cancer patients needing to feel like they belong. This is where young adult cancer patients really tend to struggle. Young adults are at an awkward stage in the medical world where they are either the OLDEST at a pediactric hospital, or the YOUNGEST at a normal hospital. They face challenges that other aged patients might not face. These are the kinds of resources and support that The Ulman Cancer Fund is able to provide to young adults! Out of all fundraising, 89% of funds raised go towards these programs and resources. It is truly remarkable.

Each participant is required to raise a minimum of $4,500 each, and the 4K for Cancer’s ultimate goal was to raise over $1,000,000 (which by the way, we surpassed as of 5/29/2015! SO AMAZING!). I have actually already raised my fundraising goal twice, from $4,500 to $5,000 to $5,500, because the love and support I have recieved has been OVERWHELMING! Everyone in my life, especially the hockey community has been more amazing than I could ever imagine!

I still cannot believe that I take off in TWO DAYS! Right now I’m in Baltimore for two training days where we will learn safety, first aid, and bike mechanics. Then I will be off! I want to continue to thank EVERYONE who has supported me so far! It has already been an amazing jounrey, and yet, the journey hasn’t even started!

If anyone would like to continue to support me by making a donation, or would simply like to follow me on my ride across America, you can do so at my profile/donation page (http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/danielle-gagne/) or my personal blog (http://classicgags.wordpress.com).

Also, if you or anyone you know would be interested in learning more about the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, you can do so at http://ulmanfund.org.

Thank you again! Wish me luck on my ride!

PS. GO BUCKEYES! 🙂

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