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Pedaling with purpose; DHS grad to embark on 4,000-mile ride to fight cancer

By David Talley | Published Saturday, September 23, 2017
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Alaska Bound

ALASKA BOUND – Decatur graduate Jake Warren will bike to Alaska as part of Texas 4000, a UT Austin organization that raises money for cancer research and rides to spread awareness. Submitted photo

There’s more than 4,000 miles separating Austin from Anchorage, and next summer a team of cyclists from the University of Texas at Austin plans to cover all of them.

Among them is Jake Warren, a 2016 Decatur High School graduate. Warren rides for Texas 4000, a student leadership development organization tasked with engaging communities across the country with information and grants to fight cancer.

The group will average nearly 80 miles a day on the 70-day trip, which includes rest days. The journey starts June 2 when three teams will set out from Austin. One heads east through the Ozarks, one west through the Sierra Nevada range and one northwest through the Rocky Mountains.

“That’s all in an effort to spread our mission as far and wide as we can and reach as many people as we can,” Warren said.

That mission – hope, knowledge and charity – will be shared by teams riding for those affected by cancer, distributing life-saving information with those they encounter along the ride and presenting money raised by team members to research and survivor organizations.

For Warren, that connection to the team came in 2014 when his aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I was really close with her growing up; she was like a second mom to me,” he said. “She fought breast cancer for about a year-and-a-half and then passed away in January 2016. That was my first up-close view of cancer. Growing up we’d had friends and distant family that had fought it, but I didn’t really know what it looked like on a personal level. That was eye-opening and difficult to see what the chemotherapy did and what the treatment did, just that whole process and the way it sucks the life out of people.

“It’s hard for people around them to maintain hope sometimes.”

Warren, who got a bike this spring, said he plans to ride for his aunt, but that he’s also hoping to hear from others in Wise County who have been affected or know those affected by the disease.

“We take turns talking about who we ride for,” he said. “So I would love to have more people to ride for, people who have been affected by cancer or know someone affected by cancer if they want to send me their story or even if it’s just a name, I will gladly take that to my team and we’ll be riding for them.”

The team currently has scheduled Saturday group workouts and will begin team rides in October. Warren said they’ll be tested with a 50-mile ride in January, which must be completed in five hours and a 100-mile ride in March, which must be completed in 10 hours.

“Those are very achievable things,” he said. “It’s just to make sure everyone is prepared to ride as much as we’re going to be riding.”

On the trip to Alaska, they’ll be staying in a combination of campsites and host sites, which could include churches, businesses or homes. Each team member was challenged to raise $4,500 and Warren said the team may present those funds as grants to different organizations along the way.

“Wherever we go, we want to spread knowledge about cancer prevention,” he said. “We take tons of materials to give to people as well.”

To get in touch with Warren about the ride, visit his Texas 4000 profile at bitly.com/jake-t4k.

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