By: Sylvia A. Bolls, Contributing Writer
This summer, senior Gabriel Brandao will spend 70 days cycling over 4,000 miles from the Baltimore Inner Harbor to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge with a team of 30 other college-aged men and women.
The program sponsoring the trip, 4K for Cancer, has been attracting both men and women between the ages of 18 to 25 from all over the United States. Formed by the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, the program provides multiple resources to and continually fundraises for both cancer patients and survivors.
“I’ve known I’ve always wanted to do this since my freshman year because I heard a man I’ve never met before talk about how he rode a bike across America and I immediately knew I wanted to do the same,” Brandao said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t until this summer that I finally got a chance to be able to devote myself to this amazing experience.”
After completing the online application in September, Brandao was interviewed a few weeks later over the phone and immediately earned his spot on Team San Francisco.
Team San Francisco will start their journey on May 31 at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and then ride southwest through Virginia across the Appalachian Mountains into Tennessee. The cyclists will travel through St. Louis to Nebraska and across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and the Painted Hills of Oregon. The riders will pass through California Wine Country before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
“I want to be able to look at a picture of North America from space and say that I used my own two legs to get from one ocean to the other,” Brandao said. “It’ll be challenging, but I’m preparing myself everyday.”
Months prior to the trip, each participant is given weekly training exercises to complete individually as well as safety exercises. As they travel throughout the summer, the cyclists will start their day when the sun rises and bike 70 to 100 miles per day in order to arrive on time to each different city.
After biking each day, the cyclists will locate their sleeping arrangements for the night, relax and prepare for the next day. These locations vary from staying with host families, sleeping in churches or on gym floors in sleeping bags.
Each week, the cyclists will have one day off to volunteer at various service events from working in soup kitchens, visiting cancer patients and presenting “chemo care” packages to cancer centers throughout their tour.
Brandao is excited to have been selected among various applicants and looks forward to joining two other Towson University students, Ellie Churchville and Dylan Auld, on Team San Francisco. Additionally, Towson student William Weise will be on Team Seattle.
“We’ve all been messaging on GroupMe and writing on our private Facebook group, so it’s all really exciting that we get to share this experience,” Brandao said.
Each cyclist must fundraise a minimum of $4,500 through interacting on social media, creating fundraisers, speaking to family and friends, asking companies to sponsor them or by word of mouth.
“I’m never going to have another chance in my life to do this,” Brandao said. “4K is about a journey as much as it is an adventure. I want to be able to meet people that are part of the cancer community along my way and hear their stories. By making my life a part of the cancer community, I’ll be able to help others with their struggles and their fights against cancer.”