Caiti is a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park. In the summer of 2012 she is riding with a group of college students on a 70 day, 4000+ mile bike ride from Baltimore to Seattle.
What is your connection with the cancer community?
This summer I am honored to ride for Marilyn Straughan and Donna Sunderdick; the former is my grandmother and the latter my 10th grade English teacher. Both individuals are connected, not only in their battle with cancer, but in the empathy, selflessness, and compassion that they embodied and that lives on in those that knew them. They taught me that life is not always fair, but it is too easy to write ourselves off as the victim of circumstances over which we have no control. Victorian poet William Ernest Henley was just 12 when he contracted tuberculosis of the bone, 17 when his leg was amputated, and 26 when he published “Invictus.” He writes, “In the fell clutch of circumstance/ I have not winced nor cried aloud./ Under the bludgeonings of chance/ My head is bloody, but unbowed.” I know Mrs. Sunderdick always taught me to justify my quotes, but this one speaks for itself. These women taught me to be great, to never be sedentary, to power wash the roof during chemotherapy, to stand on my desk and “seize the day,” and to make someone’s day with a cookie and a smile. Cancer is a dehumanizing disease and this summer I ride for people, not patients.
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
This summer I ride because these women taught me how to live: to feel the wind in my face, the dust between my teeth, and the road beneath my tires. This summer I will see the great American West for the first time, and as Earnest Hemmingway once said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best.” More importantly, however, I ride to feel inspired and to inspire others. I ride to be a part of something larger than myself and for an organization paving the way for thousands of self-propelled revolutions.