Students bike against cancer

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Four Rowan University students will raise money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults by participating in 4k For Cancer, a 4,000-mile bike ride from Baltimore to their choice of Portland, San Diego, San Francisco or Seattle.

Since 2001, numerous college students have participated in the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults initiative. Each participant enters with the goal of offering hope, inspiration and support to those affected by cancer. In 2015 alone, 170 riders in the 4K raised over $1 million to provide patient navigation services, chemotherapy care-bags to patients and scholarships to those directly and indirectly affected by cancer.

In order for participants Alex Azar, Alex Lavallee, Caitlin Morgan and Nicolette Camishion to go on the ride, they each have to raise a minimum of $4,500 by the time they depart this June.

Although the ride is still five months away, Azar, a senior finance major, has almost reached his goal, raising $4,029. He reached this point with the help of a $1,700 anonymous donation.

“It was at 1:00 a.m. [when] I saw the notification email,” Azar said. “I thought someone messed up. I was like ‘someone put [an] extra zero, they don’t have that much in their bank account, and they’re panicking right now.’ I was worried for them. At the time I had that much money [raised]. After a while it clicked, they matched what I had. I was blown away.”

His passion for raising money in the fight against cancer stems from his experience with the disease. Both of Azar’s parents are cancer survivors; his father of bladder cancer, and his mother of thyroid cancer.

“[It] was rough,” Azar said. “It took [my father] almost a year to recover from the surgery. My mother had thyroid cancer, but luckily they were able to catch that early. They were able to do [chemotherapy] and get rid of that pretty soon.”

Azar will be biking to Portland along side Lavallee, a junior public relations major and Morgan, a senior applied sociology major.

Lavallee is familiar with getting involved with different causes and raising large amounts of money for charities and organizations. Last year, he participated in a toy drive, and raised $5,300 over the course of a month.

The fourth participant, Camishion, a senior civil and environmental engineering major, will meet up with the other three students for part of the trip. But Camishion will bike her 4,000-miles to San Diego.

“For most of us this is going to be the hardest thing we’ve done in our lives,” Camishion said. “Biking 4,000 plus miles seems really daunting. Compared to what young adults who have cancer are going through, it’s a walk in the park.”

To prepare for the grueling ride, all four students were provided with a training packet of what workouts to do as their bike against cancer in June gets closer.

“I am a really big spin person, I have been going [to] spin everyday for the past three years,” Morgan said. “We have a training guide. I haven’t been following the workout. It said bike 20 miles [on a spinning machine]. I did spinning and biked 15 [miles] and ran a couple laps. But biking indoor and biking outside are completely two different things.”

So far Azar raised $4,029, Morgan $3,500, Camishion  $2,155, and Lavallee $2,696. They have all been using social media to promote their fundraising campaign in order to encourage family and friends to donate. Camishion has also taken a unique approach to promote her fundraising to reach her personal goal of raising $7,500.

“I am most likely going to be shaving my head as a fundraiser,” Camishion said. “If I cut off 17 inches, my hair is going to be at my chin. For every $100 I raise, I am going cut an inch off. Potentially, I could get in shaving distance. I’ve always wanted to shave my head. I think it is the perfect opportunity.”

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