Plenty of people enjoy taking a relaxing bike ride along a shaded trail. It’s calming as well as energizing. Others prefer moving at a faster clip along the side-lanes of busy city streets, and still, others rely on bicycles as their primary mode of transportation. But only a handful – a small handful – gives more than a passing thought to a 70-day 4,000-mile ride from Texas to Alaska!
Brooklyn Cnare, a 19-year-old architecture major at the University of Texas in Austin who lives in Corinth, is scheduled to push the pedals of her bike for 4,000 miles in 2023. Her goal is to commemorate and honor her beloved grandfather who died of cancer during her freshman year in high school, while also raising money for research.
Texas 4000 for Cancer was founded in 2004 by engineering students Chris and Mandy Condit. Chris was diagnosed at age 11 and is a Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor. His mission behind the Texas 4000 is to continue the battle against cancer by raising funds for research, while simultaneously sharing hope, knowledge, and charity. It’s the longest charity bicycle ride in the world.
The 43 participants in the 2004 inaugural ride raised $112,000 and spoke with thousands of people along the two routes, the Rockies and the Sierras. Almost all the original structure is still used, with Brooklynn’s 2023 ride marking the 20th anniversary of the event.
The ride was virtual in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 but returned to Alaska as the final destination in 2022. Going into 2023, the organization has raised in excess of $ 13 million for research and pedaled more than 5.7-million collective miles.
There are two routes for 2023, the Sierras and the Rockies. Brooklynn, who’s currently engaged in the training portion of the program, has not had her route assigned.
Cancer touched Brooklynn’s young life three times.
“My grandfather, always one of my biggest supporters, died during my freshman year. Davey, my middle school volleyball coach, died from colon cancer after it was discovered too late to treat.
“Everyone liked Mr. Willard, my high school English teacher,” Brooklyn continued. “The day of our final exam he told us, very calmly, that he had melanoma. He died during my senior year after he was unable to continue his treatments at M.D. Anderson due to COVID.
“Each loss deepened the pain. I knew the Texas 4000 would be at the top of my ‘to do’ list if I chose to attend UT.”
Brooklynn did enroll at UT. She was accepted for the 2023 Texas 4000 after passing through her interviews and other screenings. The 18-month leadership program she must complete before beginning her journey is intense. She, along with her 19 teammates, train, fundraise, volunteer, and help plan the ride. In the process, they prepare their bodies, minds, and hearts. Along the 4,000 miles, they speak with survivors, patients, caregivers, and supporters. A huge part of their mission is to share hope, knowledge, and charity. One of the important benefits is, that during the long and demanding process, many student leaders emerge from the groups with skill sets to support them throughout their careers.
“I’m riding with hope for those currently fighting against a cancer death sentence, and in honor of those who have already lost,” Brooklynn explained. “I’m riding for knowledge to educate communities about the critical need for screenings. My volleyball teacher might still be here if his cancer were caught early. And Mr. Willard? He’s a part of the pandemic that isn’t discussed. He died because he couldn’t access his treatment. Had there been no pandemic, he might still be impacting young people’s lives.
“So many people have lost loved ones. I invite them to reach out with their stories. I’ll take them with me to Alaska, and their names will be mentioned along the way as a reminder of why we’re riding.”
Each team member must raise $4,500 prior to the ride.
To find out more about Brooklynn and/or to donate to her ride, go to: bit.ly/brooklynn2alaska.
To learn more about Texas 4000, go to: Texas4000.org