As I sat at desk #2 on intern row, I began my usual morning routine with a sip of my freshly made iced coffee (that is a must!). Then I pull up my 4K Awareness Cup spreadsheet (working at UCF has made my love for spreadsheets blossom) along with the current pending blog posts on the 4K admin website…that’s right, I am an admin. After I am done tallying the number of blog posts each rider has posted from the previous day, I begin to read them. All of them. It is essential that I read over all the blog posts before publishing them to the 4K website because some of the riders may forget to sensor their remarks, but finding things I need to delete or fix is very rare. Mostly, I catch myself submerged in the stories they are telling of the people they have met, the places they have seen, and the humorous moments that have taken place within their group.
Some of my favorite excerpts from the blogs…
“From these days, I have learned one important thing: that independence and teamwork have their own specific time and place. Certain things, small things, we can learn to overcome on our own–in turn, this will make us stronger. Bigger problems however, will require you to use your teammates in order to overcome an obstacle that may otherwise keep one from attaining all the goals they set for themselves. Between my personal struggles and working with other teammates in their struggles, I have found this lesson to be an important one. Just when you think you’ve learned enough, you learn something new and valuable.”
More than anything this trips challenges each rider on all aspects; physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. One of the motifs of the ride and UCF is to change lives. The personal lives of these riders are changing as they overcome new challenges. This is truly a journey in every sense of the word.
“The hope lodge is where patients who live far away and are getting treatment are allowed to stay here for free which is like a hotel setting. Some of us cooked dinner while the others talked to the patients. I started to talk to a man named Bill Gregory. We talked to him about everything from his gardening, to his truck driving throughout the U.S. to his cancer. I was so inspired by him. He told us the hardest part about having cancer was seeing the kids have to fight cancer. I expected him to say chemo or something on those lines but he didn’t think about himself as much the kids. I told him I would dedicate the next day to him. When I saw how much that meant to him, he inspired me even more.”
The riders partake in multiple service opportunities along the way, many of the riders write about the connections they make with people along the way. This is the kind of thing that keeps them going each day.
“6:30 AM — Zombified riders get dressed, do chores, or just wander aimlessly until they get scolded to do something productive. Some people warm up by participating in impromptu dance parties, while others eagerly search for anything that resembles food to devour, beginning the long process of eating up to 7000 calories a day. After breakfast, morning circle inevitably starts with an unpromising role call that is always missing somebody. Riders and hosts interlock fingers and hold hands in a personal ceremony where we share who we’re riding for, reminding us why we’re purposefully awake at this ungodly hour. One rider starts our chant:
“WHERE ARE WE FROM?!”
“BALTIMORE!” all the riders yell back.
“WHERE ARE WE GOING?!”
“PORTLAND!” we scream while the hosts smile at our enthusiasm.
“WHO ARE WE?!”
“WHO ARE WE?!”
“WHO ARE WE?!”
“4K!” we declare while the hosts are now smiling awkwardly, not knowing what to do while 26 riders won’t stop yelling in unison.
“MYREH MYREH MYREEHH MYREHMYREHMYREHMYREH.”
“DOUBLE YELLOW LINE,” we conclude. At this point, all the hosts are completely lost. We give heartfelt thanks and wish we could give back more. We say good bye, break off into riding groups of three to five people, and set off onto our next destination.”
This is by far one of the most honest posts of the entire ride, it truly is a day in the life, I highly suggest reading the full post!
Quick side-note if you haven’t read the blogs, you should! They are awesome and the riders do a great job telling their stories. http://4kforcancer.org/follow-us/
Back to the point of my blog..
Aside from the ride leaders, who get some nagging e-mails from me, a lot of the riders probably have no idea who I am. They left on their journey before I even began working at UCF, but the crazy thing is I know them. I can pretty much match any name with what ride they are on and for a lot of the committed bloggers and tweeters I feel like I am on the ride with them. Along with all of the media tracking I also had a part in creating thank you videos for all of our wonderful 4K for Cancer donors. In the videos we had the riders say a personal thank-you to their donors. The video also served to continue to spread the message of the Ulman Cancer Fund and to remind our donors how they are changing lives!
Everyday I have my hands in many different projects involving the 4K, helping wherever I can. Right now we are in the midst of interviewing applicants for the 2013 4K for Cancer. Before the process even started we created a template of the questions we would ask and the type of answers we were looking for and once again I am learning more and more about what the 4K is and what the riders experience. Of course I get lots this insight through Stephen, the program manager, who was on the ride in 2011. Last week we began these phone interviews and I find myself talking about the 4K as if I have done it a thousand times. I able to speak about not only logistical things like how everything works, if you get a free bike or not, or how long the ride is, but I also speak of what the riders do and how they are affected by the immensity of this journey. I speak of the communities they are connecting with and the people they meet.
A common phrase in this office is “it’s the 4K way” and although in many settings it is a used as comic relief I find myself living and learning “the 4K way” every day that I come in the office. “The 4K way” is more than a group of young adults raising money and riding across the country. It is a group of young adults who are learning things about themselves and the people around them, they are constantly reminded about why they are riding through the various service projects they are involved in, and they are inspiring communities across the country to join them in changing lives. They are doing more each day than most young adults and they are incredibly consumed by their mission. The perseverance and strength they show is outstanding. The things I read about each day is unbelievable, the riders show me The 4K way and I am forever grateful to be sharing this journey with them via computer!
This has also proved to be quite the recruiting tactic, because if I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the 4K before, I have now been convinced that in 2014 I will be applying for my spot on the 4K.
In the words of one of our riders
Christina, Intern #2