This summer on June 1, my son and 39 other young people left Austin Texas on a bicycle ride to Anchorage Alaska. A youthful fling? No, this is an altruistic, unselfish mission to raise money to support cancer research.
They are riding for an organization called Texas 4000, which is how far each rider commits to ride—4,000 miles. This is the fourth year that approximately 40 young people have given up their summers to make this ride, facing sore muscles, rain slickened roads and tall mountains to raise over $850,000 to support cancer research, making a difference in a real and visible way.
Reading their blogs this summer and talking to my son has reinforced my belief in our young people, helping me believe that their idealistic ambitions and hopes will some day help solve the problems of our troubled world.
Each morning before they ride they dedicate their ride to someone who has been affected by cancer. Remembering what those individuals and their families have gone through in their battles with the disease keeps the riders going for another 100 mile day. To read about the struggles of fighting headwinds and huge mountains and the inspiration they find from those they’ve come into contact with and heard about in personal struggles with cancer gives me hope and inspiration.
But it has been more than just the riders’ dedication to their cause. I’ve found hope in the wonderful people they have come into contact with along the way who have truly been amazing. Ordinary people, nearly all who are strangers, have become friends as they have graciously hosted them in their homes, generously fed them and provided them moral support. This too gives me hope. And it’s been the unexpected support that has moved me the most. From the campsite manager who contributed out of his own pocket to their campsite fee, to the people in the line at the convenience store giving the riders money towards their cause, to the McDonalds and Sonic managers who have unexpectedly fed them lunch and breakfast after hearing their story. Everyone has been so generous to the riders and I’d like to thank them all.
These young people have proven to me that striving to do something heroic and difficult for a good cause is still worthwhile and possible. It provides all of us with hope and inspiration in an imperfect and troubled world by showing us that it is still filled with good and caring people who all want to make a difference in whatever way they can.
When the riders arrive in Anchorage on August 10th, I will be there to give each of them a hug and thank them for reaffirming my belief that we’re leaving the world in good hands, ones that will improve it and make it better and maybe even find that cure for cancer.
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