A 4,500-mile, 70-day journey ended Friday for the riders of Texas 4000, the cancer fundraiser that calls itself the longest charity ride in the world.
Each summer, UT students bike from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska, to raise more than $300,000 for the American Cancer Society. And every year, members of the Texas Exes Alaska Chapter give the riders a warm welcome after they cross the finish line in Anchorage.
This year, Anchorage-area Texas Exes stopped at nothing to support the riders—from offering the students a place to sleep to delivering mail from home, organizing water stops, arranging hotel discounts, and lining up tours of a local cancer center. Several alumni even stood for hours at confusing intersections to point riders in the right direction.
“Biking from Texas to Alaska for a cause is an enormous accomplishment,” says chapter president Jim Mills, BS ’82, Life Member. “To welcome them at the finish line is a huge deal for us. It’s something we look forward to all year long.”
At the finish line in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park awaited what chapter member Cathy Foerster calls a “Texas-Alaska feast”—a potluck buffet featuring tacos and Tex-Mex alongside Alaska salmon, halibut, and caribou sausage.
“Nine years ago, our chapter wasn’t that strong,” says Foerster, BS ’77, Life Member. “Now this has defined us as a group that gets together to help other people.”
At the finish, the mood was celebratory but bittersweet. One of this year’s riders, Ruel Bobet, died in February from stomach cancer. His teammates carried his ashes for all 4,500 miles before scattering them in Anchorage—ensuring that Bobet completed the journey he started more than a year ago.
Texas 4000 riders embrace after crossing the finish line in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo by Jim Mills.
Laura Long Gardner:
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