Chelsea DeBernardis 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?
Originally, I heard about the 4k for Cancer ride from a friend who applied, and it sounded like such a fun and special opportunity to see the country and stay in shape this summer. I've always found volunteer work to be fulfilling, but in the beginning, the community service was just a perk. It wasn't the thing pushing me to apply to be a 4k rider. After spending about 5 hours reading through the website here at 4kforcancer.org- learning about its mission and history, reading over rider profiles, and checking out all the pictures from the past 10 summers- I started to develop a deeper connection to the idea. Reading the stories about how cancer has affected the lives of the other 2012 riders was enough to motivate me to apply. I knew that some of my older family members had struggled with cancer in the past, but I was so young when they were diagnosed, and I've never thought to ask my parents the details. When my parents and I got to talking, I learned that cancer has affected my family in more ways than I thought. Cancer is a horrible part of this world, but I believe that through the worst in things, we see the best in people. I am honored to be a part of the 4k Seattle team, and I can't wait to share with them the experience of cycling from Baltimore to Seattle this summer, "offering hope, inspiration, and support to cancer communities along the way."
Why are you riding the 4K for Cancer?
I am riding for my maternal grandfather (Grandad), who had colon cancer and passed away months after I was born. I am riding for my paternal grandmother (Gaga), who had lung cancer and passed away when I was in sixth grade. Her name, Elsie, rhymes with mine. Like me, she loved to dance. I think about her often. I am riding for her husband, my paternal grandfather (Poppy), who has bladder cancer, and somehow still manages to make it to the bowling alley every week, joking around about how awful his game is these days. I am riding for my Great Uncle Carroll, who is struggling with lung cancer, and for his supportive wife, my Godmother and aunt Chris, a faithful and beautiful breast cancer survivor. I am riding for my mother's sister, my Aunt Susann, another beautiful and supportive breast cancer survivor. Last but not least, I am riding for my mother's and Aunt Susann's sister, my Aunt Carol Jean, who passed away in September shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer. I am riding for you, and for anyone you know who is living with, has overcome, or has lost their life to cancer. In order to participate in the 4k for Cancer ride, I have to raise a minimum of $4,500, but I've set my goal a bit higher, at $5,000. Your support is so vital in helping me accomplish my goal not only to raise money, but also to make a personal difference in cancer communities across the country. For every dollar you donate, I will be honored to dedicate a mile of my ride to someone you know who has been affected by cancer. Every day of the trip, I will be updating my blog, and will be sure to share the dedication so that you can see how your loved ones helped motivate me to keep on pedaling.