U of I group bikes cross-country to combat cancer

CHAMPAIGN-URBANA -- Twenty University of Illinois students are pedaling across the country on a bike ride to raise money and fight cancer.

Some trained long before the trek.

"Before this organization, I probably biked at most like 40 miles at once," said Illini 4000 biker, Tyler Levy.

Others were beginners.

"I biked to class that was about it," said Levy's teammate, Anne Wave.

Some have a connection to the cause.

"This fall, my mom was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma," said cyclist Grace Deetjen.

But all 20 members of the Illini 4000 are riding for the same reason.

"It gives people hope," said Wave. "And I want to be one of those positive people."

"I want to bring hope to people," said Deetjen. "I want to bring hope and I want to bring healing."

The University of Illinois students are biking 4500 miles during a 71-day cross-country journey, to raise money for cancer research and support services. On Saturday, they reached the 1000-mile mark and made a special rest stop at their home base.

"It's crazy thinking thinking that two weeks ago we were in New York City," said Levy. "And now we're back home in Champaign."

Because they've hit some bumps in the road.

"When we got to the Appalachians, we were just not ready at all," said Wave.

And they don't expect smooth sailing as they pedal on to San Francisco.

"The Rocky's, Colorado, that's going to be hard," said Deetjen. "And there's a few days in California where we just have lots and lots of mountains."

But their motivation keeps them going.

"Even though we're just college students, we're able to step aside from our busy lives and help fight cancer," said Levy.
"[My mom has] now been in remission for a year," said Deetjen.

And that is why they ride.
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