I’m normally someone who isn’t comfortable with unplanned events, but last night might change that view. I was leaving a friend’s apartment, when I remembered that another friend had mentioned an event going on involving something called Texas 4000. I had no idea what this event was about at first, and even when I arrived at The Yardhouse I was still very unsure what was going to happen. By the end of the night though, I wondered how people haven’t heard of this inspiring charity bike ride, or the amazing people who are taking part in this event. They will ride from Austin,Texas to Anchorage, Alaska, riding about 75 miles a day on average, to raise awareness and money for various groups like YACC (Young Adult Cancer Canada), M.D. Anderson Center, etc.
The one thing I find with anyone’s cancer journey (not a fan of that word, but what else do you call it?) is that it’s hard to reconcile the positives that come out of it. How can something that destroys lives, and causes so much pain ever be good? I’ve met some amazing people that I would never have otherwise met, made good friends fast, and I know they are people I will speak to again and depend on in the future. I’m constantly astonished that there are so many people in this world selflessly giving up their time, and putting themselves through grueling conditions to benefit not only people they know, but also people who are total strangers. As I just mentioned, each participant has a personal connection to cancer, grandparents, friends, etc. I won’t go into their individual stories, as they are not my story to tell. One participant though, told a story about riding for his father, who had himself been an avid cyclist before cancer, and it overwhelmed me so much to hear about such love and connection (his bike contains parts from his dad’s bike so they are riding together!). The talk never stayed solely on cancer, or even the ride, as we all seemed to have a lot more in common, and really they were all fascinating people. I’ve noticed at the YACC events I’ve attended that we don’t sit there and only talk about the disease, but instead we just talk, about our lives, friends, likes/dislikes, etc. Cancer has become a part of our life, but it’s not the only part…..or even the major part, it’s just something we have to accept as a reality. We all stayed out pretty late, enjoying good food and conversation. I learned more about Tennessee vs. Texas country, and I taught someone about my love of early civil war photography. Those of us who are a part of YACC also got to show the riders what their donation and hard work is going to help, and how the group provides us with so much support and long lasting friendships.
I’ve provided links below so you can learn more about their epic bike ride. This ride goes on every year, but with new participants, as it takes up 18 months of each rider’s life from start to finish. They will arrive in Alaska on August 8, 2014 to a huge celebratory event, and probably some much needed R&R. If you are ever concerned that your donated money often goes to high overhead costs, look toward donating to the Texas 4000, as they often support smaller, and more local support/research groups.