Towson student to bicycle cross country for cancer fundraiser

May 17, 2011|By Pat van den Beemt, pvdb@comcast.net

Four days after she graduates from Towson University, Anne "Bunny" Brooks will hop on her bike for a 4K for Cancer ride.

Big deal, you say — four kilometers is only 2.5 miles. Except that in Brooks' case, the K in 4K stands for thousand.

On May 29, Brooks, of Sparks, will ride out of Baltimore's Inner Harbor with 30 college students. Their goal is 4,000 miles away at San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

During their 69-day trek, the riders, who each raised $4,500 to participate, will take time off to visit cancer patients at hospitals, host cancer education programs and donate money to local charities.

They'll go through many rural areas and hope to stay at churches, community centers or campgrounds.

Brooks first heard about the charity ride when David Conover, the nonprofit group's executive director, spoke to Towson University's Alternative Break Connections club, which organizes service trips during winter and spring breaks.

"As soon as I heard about it, I wanted to go," said Brooks. "I'm not a competitive person, so I like the fact this is not a race, it's a ride."

She has a mountain bike for the nearby Bike & Hike trail, but needed a sleek set of wheels for the cross-country trip. Jamis bicycles, one of the trip's sponsors, donated bikes to each participant.

Brooks, a Notre Dame Preparatory School graduate, got her new bike in mid-February. She's been out riding when she can fit it into her pre-graduation schedule.

"I have a lot on my plate now, but I think biking is secondary to the cancer awareness that happens on the trip," she said. "I think my biggest battle will be a mental one. I just need to get on the bike every day and ride."

The riders will average 75 miles a day. Nine days, they'll bike 100 miles or more. The longest day is 122 miles in the Lake Tahoe area.

The 4K for Cancer was started by Johns Hopkins University students in 2001 and the trips have been yearly ever since. This year, Books joins students from Hopkins, Towson University, McDaniel College, University of Maryland Baltimore County and University of Connecticut.

She is riding in memory of her grandfather, Peter Accorti, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2003 and to honor her mother, Jackie Brooks, whose breast cancer, diagnosed in 2009, is now in remission.

Jackie Brooks and her husband, John, plan on flying to San Francisco to see their daughter complete her journey.

Although this is her first long-distance ride, Brooks, who was counselor at Camp Puh'Tok, in Monkton, for three summers, was named one of two trip directors.

"This is a student-led ride and we asked who would be interested in being a leader," Conover said. "Bunny had a great background as camp counselor and she's dynamic. She has to focus on the big picture and thousands of little details, too."

Brooks will write a blog along the way. To follow that, go to bicyclebunny.tumblr.com. To learn more about the organization or to make a donation, go to http://www.4kforcancer.org.

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