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Riding for a cause

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Group raising money to help fight cancer

By John Barnhart

    A group of young adults riding bicycles across the country stopped for a lunch break in Moneta, Friday. The bicyclists are riding cross country. They started in Baltimore, Maryland, and are headed for San Francisco.

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    The group is riding for 4K for Cancer, a fundraising effort of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. According to Margarita Castaneda, a member of the group, they try to do between 60 and 120 miles a day. They average 80 miles. The 19 members of the team have a variety of bike riding experiences.
    “We have some racers and triathletes,” she said.
    Others are inexperienced bikers. However, each team — there are four teams in this cross-country ride — consists of a mix of good bikers and folks who are new to cross-country biking. Castaneda said this is done to make sure they don’t leave anyone behind.
    Lauren Teague, one of the bicyclists, is studying at the University of Virginia to become a nurse and is interested in oncology nursing.
    “I like the relationship part,” she said.
    Teague wants to be able to help cancer patients over the long haul.
    “It’s universally awful,” she said of cancer.
    Teague said the organization she’s riding for provides support to cancer patients and their families. She said not all people with cancer have support resources. The idea is to financially help these folks with items such as gasoline cards, or helping them pay to keep the electricity on.
    She said young adults, the age of the folks on this bike ride, don’t fit in with either children or older adults.  That’s why this program focuses on them.
    Teague said the rides have raised $700,000 this year.
    Along with raising money, Teague said they will sign up people to get on the bone marrow transplant list. Some types of leukemia have been treated by replacing their bone marrow with donated marrow. A Bedford firefighter named Denver Aud got such a transplant earlier this year. The list makes  the process of finding a good tissue match faster when a cancer patient needs such a transplant.
    Teague said her father, who is an avid bicyclist, helped her prepare for this ride with a training trip. But it was still tough.
    “We did 83 miles through the Appalachian Moun-tains,” Teague said of the ride, so far. “It was a steep learning curve.”
    Thinking of cancer patients has kept her going when she’s exhausted because it’s nothing like the physical ordeal cancer patients face.
    “They can’t give up,” she said.
    For more information about the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, visit the group’s website at ulmanfund.org. Information about the bicycle, and relay running, fundraising activities can be found at www.4kforcancer.org.