Mason student marathons across America in name of cancer patients

By Fourth Estate Lifestyle Reporter Savannah Norton

Mason student, Christina Anderson, will be traveling with college-aged students on a 42-day, 4,000 mile run from San Francisco to Baltimore this summer.

Every year since 2001, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults has hosted a 4K for Cancer program.  This year is the thirteenth year the 4K will travel across the country.

Going by the motto, “every mile matters,” the Ulman Cancer Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives by supporting, educating and connecting young adults affected by cancer.

“It’s not researched based, it’s more direct service.  They drive people to their treatments, pay to keep the lights on during their treatment, and help them be less dependent on their parents,” Anderson said.

Their 4K for Cancer run lets groups of students embark on a journey across the United States with the goal of giving hope and inspiration to cancer patients.

“It’s one of the few organizations that help young adults with cancer,” Anderson said.

Anderson is a Nursing major at Mason and loves to help people.  With her father’s bladder cancer and her grandfather’s passing from cancer, she has had some motivation to give back to the community.  One situation in particular sticks out in her mind, which was the green flag to participate in something as big as this 4K for Cancer.

“During this past summer, my boyfriend’s mom passed away suddenly.  She was just really sick and passed away within a week.  She didn’t die of cancer. She died of an infection.  But seeing her passing made me want to do everything I can to help people and apply for this opportunity,”  Anderson said.

Anderson found out about the 4K for Cancer online when she and her roommate were freshmen.

“She did the bike ride last summer.  She biked to Seattle from Baltimore,” Anderson said.  She decided not to participate with her roommate last year because she was needed at home.  Now that Christina is ready to run this summer, her roommate is acting as a mentor.

“She is telling me everything little thing that I need,” Anderson said.

Running 4,000 miles across the country is something that Anderson has never done before.  She has been doing as much as she can to prepare for this huge commitment this summer.

“I am lifting a lot, especially because of this vortex weather!” Anderson said.  She has also been participating in local half runs in the area.

Anderson finds that the best thing about this run is representing someone with cancer each day she runs. “Every day during the runs, each runner dedicates their run to someone.  We write their names on our legs and then we run for them that day,” Anderson said.

When someone or a group donates to her donation site, she asks them if there is someone or a loved one that she can dedicate her run to.  This special devotion can also be for a whole family.

“During the run we have rest days every four to five days.  And we are going to go to hospitals to give care packages to chemo units. We are giving back to real patients, to the people who we are giving our service to,” Anderson said.

These students will be running through all types of terrain and passing through places like Santa Barbra, Las Vegas, Louisville and many more.

“We are going through Boulder for the fourth of July. I am so excited. And we are also going through Salt Lake City. I’m hoping we see some Olympic rings,” Anderson said.

Their sleeping arrangements consist of sleeping at a school or church, all of which is free.  “People just volunteer to help us.  Sometimes people even volunteer their homes and we’ll sleep on the floor or couch.”

Food is donated every day for these runners.  “It’s going to be amazing.  I can’t wait to see how all the logistics work with that.  That’s a ton of teamwork,” Anderson said.

“Every year this run gets more and more popular.  They got over a hundred applications this year, and they only have thirty spots,” Anderson said.

Anderson is ready for the challenge and commitment for this summer.  “I just hope my legs survive!” Anderson said.

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(Photo by Walter Martinez)