UW-Whitewater sophomore Dong Hoon Lee is reminded every day of the struggles of cancer after his mother was diagnosed in 2006. This summer, while some students will be working, interning or simply enjoying their break, Lee won't be doing any of those things. He'll be riding his bicycle more than 4,000 miles across the United States to join the fight against cancer.
Lee is participating in 4K for Cancer, sponsored by the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. It brings together 40 college students to cycle across the country to raise money and awareness for cancer research. The ride starts in Baltimore and ends at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as the cyclists trek through nine states in a little over two months.
Besides building strong character and muscles, students will meet with current cancer patients so they can connect with them through shared experiences. "We'll draw parallels between our emotional and physical fights when we go on the ride because, of course, it will be difficult," Lee said. "But they didn't choose to go through this fight."
Lee's own connection to the cancer community began when his mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
"At 8 o'clock every night I gave her pills she needed to take. That's all I could do to show her I cared for her because I was so young," Lee said. She's been in remission since surgery, but Lee said he still thinks often of her struggle.
Lee plans to donate $4,500 to cancer research by joining in the ride, and so far he's more than halfway toward his goal.
"I have 70 days on my ride, and I want to dedicate each day to someone who donates to my ride to remember those people. Day one will be for my mom," Lee said.
Donations can be made on his website until May 15 at 4kforcancer.org/profiles/dong-lee.