My name is Elizabeth Schmidt and this summer I, along with three other Texas Delta Gammas, am bike riding from Texas to Alaska to battle cancer.
Delta Gamma is cultivated under our foundation of hope. Our symbol is the anchor as we hold tight to lasting friendships and give those in need an impenetrable reassurance of support and encouragement.
Similarly, Texas 4000 for Cancer holds hope as one of our core foundations: Hope, Knowledge, and Charity.
Texas 4000 for Cancer is a 4,500 mile bike ride from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska. Members are University of Texas at Austin students who were accepted into this adventure under a rigorous application process. I am blessed that myself and three other Texas Delta Gammas were chosen to embark on this cross-continent journey in the fight against cancer.
Texas 4000 is not only an organization or a student group; it is a family of college kids who are passionate about ending cancer and who are willing to bike to Alaska to prove it. Our goals are: to spread HOPE to those who are battling cancer, to spread KNOWLEDGE across the continent of the importance of understanding cancer, and to be a CHARITY that is dedicated to giving support to cancer research programs.
Each rider is required to raise a minimum of $4,500 for cancer research programs. As of right now, Ellen Witte, Kristina Schommer, Elaine Posluszny, and I have raised over $36,500. Apart from fundraising, Texas 4000 members have volunteer and fitness requirements. Members are accepted almost two years before they depart for the 70-day ride, and within that time period are required to complete over 45 hours of volunteering. We volunteer at marathons, bike races, and within the cancer community in Austin. Training is very important in Texas 4000 as we want every rider to be safe and comfortable biking such a magnanimous distance. We receive our bikes seven months in advance and are required to log at least 1,500 miles in training. Each member must complete a century test before the ride – 100 miles in 10 hours. Every Saturday we have a mandatory team ride and are encouraged to ride at least 2 to 3 additional times during the week.
Along our journey we either camp or stay in host homes and churches. We visit hospitals and cancer facilities and have countless conversations with those affected by cancer. I am most excited about this part of Texas 4000. Hearing my teammates’ stories has already impacted me, and I know the unexpected stories we hear along the way will stay with us forever.
“I ride for…” is how we start every Texas 4000 meeting. My teammates and I are riding for siblings, parents, grandparents, cousins, and friends, and for numerous forms of cancer. I ride for my good friend, Hunter Bradley. I had the pleasure to be on the same dance team as Hunter for two years. A talented dancer and committed teammate, Hunter’s fun-loving personality and contagious smile engaged and delighted everyone. My beautiful-on-the-inside-and-out friend was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when she was 17 and a senior in high school. Upon diagnosis, she immediately entered treatment and was confronted with the side-effects of chemo and radiation, the pain of physical therapy, and the fear of what her future would look like. With much love, prayer, and support, Hunter entered remission this past year. I ride for Hunter with the HOPE that the medical miracles that saved her can also save others; with the prayer that my efforts will increase KNOWLEDGE and awareness from Texas to Alaska and beyond, while dedicating myself to CHARITY and raising money to combat this illness.
The four of us will bring the hope we carry in Delta Gamma to those across the continent battling cancer. We hope to inspire those fighting through our seemingly impossible bike ride, to donate to and support cancer research programs, and to educate those we encounter about the effects, treatment, and prevention of cancer.
You can visit www.texas4000.org to learn more. Visit our rider profiles to see why each of us rides and for a link to our donation pages. If you don’t really believe this is real, you can look at the video from the 2013 team this past summer.
“Hope is a waking dream.” –Aristotle