Hopkins 4K for Cancer
The third annual Hopkins 4K for Cancer begins at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday, May 29, with an hour-long kick-off event on the steps of Shriver Hall on the Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St. in Baltimore. A cancer survivor, a representative from Hope Lodge, and a Johns Hopkins physician will speak before the students depart campus. The students anticipate crossing the finish line, the Golden Gate Bridge, on Sunday, Aug. 1.
The Johns Hopkins students will be joined by six of their friends from other colleges and universities from across the country. The ticket to ride is $3,000, which each of the students raised by soliciting donations. The money will be used to sustain the students throughout the trip, but will primarily be put toward their gift to Hope Lodge. While cycling 4,000 miles to raise money and promote a healthy lifestyle, the students will also stop in several big cities and small towns for service projects, volunteering their youthful energy to local community groups in honor of their friends and loved ones affected by the disease. Projects include:
Presenting a bike safety lesson for a Special Olympics cycling team in Greensboro, Pa., at the local YMCA.
A visit to the Hope Lodge in Cleveland as well as touring the cancer wards at the surrounding hospitals.
Cooking a barbecue lunch for patients at a hospice in Topeka, hanging out with them during their music therapy session, and painting a mural representing the Hopkins 4K trip.
A cancer awareness picnic in Benkleman, Neb., where students plan to hand out information on cancer prevention and diagnosis.
The first two Hopkins 4K rides across the country raised more than $100,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year's trip is the first where the funds are earmarked from the start for a specific ACS affiliate. Students have spent a great deal of time this academic year at Hope Lodge, 636 W. Lexington St. in Baltimore, gathering inspiration for their journey through weekly visits with the residents like Anita Hahn, 71.
While Hahn, a Florida resident at the time, underwent treatment for breast cancer at Johns Hopkins Hospital from September 2003 through early May 2004, she and her husband, Bill, lived in a room at Hope Lodge. Hahn called the Hopkins 4K crew "a breath of fresh air" and said they helped make Hope Lodge feel like home by bringing homemade dinners and desserts to the residents.
"I was there for the first dinner and I've been here for every dinner since," Hahn said days before leaving Hope Lodge May 6 at the conclusion of her treatment. "They made a point of spending time with each and every resident so they'd each get to know everybody."
Students also helped out with chores, like putting up and taking down Christmas trees and setting up new furniture, and dedicated $20,000 from the 2003 trip to renovating and adding computers to the Hope Lodge library.
"This is an amazing and dedicated group of students," said Karen Seaberry, director of Hope Lodge in Baltimore. "It's a win-win situation for everybody. We don't think of it as volunteers coming to visit &mdsah; it's more like a family."
"We just love those kids," Hahn said. "They really perk our spirits up. They have a different slant on life than older people. Their trip across the country is a wonderful thing. They must enjoy it; I know I would if I was younger."
The students will have a "goodbye bash" with their friends at Hope Lodge starting with a cocktail hour at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 27. Members of the media are welcome to attend the event to interview students and Hope Lodge residents. Advance notice of press attendance is required. Contact Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960. For more information about Hope Lodge, contact Karen Seaberry at (410) 547-2522. Visit Hope Lodge online by searching www.cancer.org/. Hopkins 4K for Cancer is online at www.hopkins4k.org/.
Monica Elizabeth Kaitz, 23, (pictured at right) just graduated from the Johns Hopkins' Premed Post-Baccalaureate Program. She also holds a bachelor of arts degree from Amherst College. Kaitz is the daughter of Spencer and Roberta Kaitz of Piedmont, Calif.
"Why I joined Hopkins 4K: I had a cancer scare myself six months ago; I've felt that hippo sitting on my chest sensation you get when you hear 'It looks like you may have cancer.' A larger-than-life sailing cousin in Australia of mine died of cancer, and another survived breast cancer. This seems the least I could do. I would also like to explore my country and explore myself."Brian Tursi, 22, a senior at Johns Hopkins who received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering on May 20. He is the son of Paul and Kathy Tursi of Massapequa, N.Y.
"I am doing the 4K for a whole bunch of reasons, but there are a few main ones. I have known several people diagnosed with cancer, in particular, my grandmother, a college buddy, and several family friends. Their experiences have left me with stories of hope and positive thinking and are a true inspiration of how to live life. The trip is my way of repaying them for inspiring me and spreading their stories to others. I also like the idea of dedicating myself completely to doing things for others, which is something I could never do during school. Then of course there's the challenge of riding across country. All in all, I know the trip will leave a lasting effect on my life and I am anxious to see what I can learn."Rob Byers, 24, working toward his master's degree in the recording and acoustics program at the Peabody Institute at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the son of Larry and Alice Byers of Newport News, Va.
"This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime adventure for an incredibly important cause. Everyone I know has been affected by this disease, and I feel lucky to be involved in the fight against cancer in this way."Meredith Bell, 21, (pictured at right) a student at Univerisity of North Carolina at Greensboro who anticipates earning her bachelor's degree in exercise and sports science this spring. She is the daughter of Robert and Emily Bell of Hickory, N.C.
"When I found out about 4K I knew this was the only way I wanted to spend my summer. I can't think of a better way to spend my summer than bringing hope to cancer patients across the country. Cancer is something that affects everyone in some way or another. I am dedicating my ride to Karen Ruth Drake and her family. Karen was the mother of a good friend of mine. She passed away from stage 3 uterine cancer in October. I was not fortunate enough to meet this extraordinary lady, but I was fortunate enough to meet her daughter. Her daughter was in North Carolina when her mother passed away in New Jersey. Karen's death was unexpected and I was very upset by the fact that my friend wasn't there when her mother passed away. I know that Mrs. Drake will be with me, keeping me safe along the trip."Travis Cogdill, 21, who finished his second year of graduate school studies in mathematics at the University of North Texas this month. He is the son of Trenton and Evelyn Cogdill of Weatherford, Texas.
"In my professional life, I won't be able to really impact the fight against cancer. This ride is an ideal way for riders who work outside of medicine to give something big to the cause."Sravana Kumar Chennupati, 21, who is studying molecular and cell biology with an emphasis in immunology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the son of Subba and Usha Chennupati of Texarkana, Texas.
"Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in this country. While the amount of information we know about it has increased tremendously over the past few decades, there is still much work to be done. I hope that my work with Hopkins 4K will not only help provide funding for the research we so desperately need, but will also inspire hope in those that we meet along the way, and in those that hear our story."Lisa Lash, 22, a senior majoring in speech communications at Ithaca College. She is the daughter of Sue Percsi of Kent, Ohio.
"You mean all I have to do is ride a bicycle across the country and people will donate money to cancer research? I'm thrilled at the opportunity to undertake this incredible physical and mental challenge while doing community service and donating money for a cause that recently touched my family. I couldn't think of a better way to spend the summer."Renee Bacino, 22, a senior majoring in art and psychology at Ithaca College. She is the daughter of Stephen and Charlotte Bacino of Blue Bell, Pa.
"I decided to participate in the Hopkins 4K for Cancer because I want to take an active role in the fight against cancer and spread hope to many victims and survivors across the country. What better way to do this than riding a bicycle across the country, an extremely difficult task that can be accomplished with perseverance and support. The same goes for the fight against cancer. With personal perseverance and the support from others, I believe that cancer patients can experience positive outcomes."
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