Clayton is studying mathematics at University of Maryland Baltimore County. In the summer of 2011 he is riding with a group of college students on a 70 day, 4000 mile bike ride from Baltimore to Portland. Money raised by our riders goes to support 4K for Cancer's mission of spreading awareness, fostering hope and uniting communities across the county in the fight against cancer. We do this through cancer education programs, health screenings and by visiting cancer patients at hospitals, cancer centers and hospices each day during the ride. 4K also gives financial support to local, cancer centric non-profits in the communities we bike through.
I am a graduate of Paint Branch High School of Burtonsville, Maryland. I attend University of Maryland Baltimore County, seeking a B.S. in mathematics. I am a patched member and vice president of the UMBC Rugby Football Club. I hold the position of Eminent Recorder in the UMBC chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
My father died of cancer at the age of forty. I was ten. The eldest of four siblings, I serve as both role model and cautionary tale. I held close his values: scholastic excellence, perseverance, courage. However, the experience of losing my father numbed me to certain things. Cancer affected so many of the lives close to mine that, even from an early age, it seemed something immutable. With odds so seemingly stacked against the victims, I adopted an apathetic attitude towards the disease. I shunned ribbons and bracelets, aesthetically and principally: how can anyone claim to fight against cancer?
The same attitude greeted a proposal from my friend who was telling me about the 4K. Surely the ride is an excellent opportunity to learn how to raise funds for charity, see the country from a unique perspective, and live an experience that most riders will not have another chance at. Even though family members and a fraternity brother are cancer survivors, I ultimately thought the 4K benefited a hopeless cause. I considered the happy endings I knew about to be simple luck. I humored my friend, however. I applied, interviewed, and even volunteered at the Hope Lodge in Baltimore.
There I discovered how people are able to say they fight cancer. Speaking with an upbeat patient at the Hope Lodge, I was struck by her candid analysis of her situation. She faced the facts with admirable courage and a determination that I could not understand. Cancer is a disease of the body, yet places an inordinate strain on the emotions. Precisely because of the lack of hope. Sharing and continuing the story of the 4K inspire hope. One needs to be courageous and perseverant to endure months and years of treatment. To embody those is quite impossible without hope.