Coast-to-coast will help young adults with cancer

News-DemocratJanuary 26, 2014 

Sporty Brad Buchanan likes adventures -- and helping others.

The 20-year-old college student from Swansea plans to bicycle from Baltimore to San Diego during the summer of 2014 to raise money for young adults with cancer.

He was inspired by a friend who made the trip last summer.

"I thought it was pretty cool," said Brad, a senior marketing major at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis. "I didn't know what was involved until fall when she got back. You go from coast to coast, from one ocean to the other. She had photos posted. She was standing in the ocean holding her bike over her head. When I saw it, I decided, 'I am doing it. I want that photo.'"

In order to get that photo, Brad has to raise $5,000 for 4K for Cancer, a program of the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults that organizes the trip. His is one of four routes. There's also a run available.

He and his team of about 30 will ride 4,000-plus miles. They will make stops at cancer centers and hospitals, and will rely on the goodness of folks they meet for lodging and food.

"We find YMCAs, churches and city centers that will host us for the night," Brad said. "Some days, we will ride in a van to collect food donations. Host families will feed us as well."

According to the 4K for Cancer website, 127 4K for Cancer participants traveled across America in 2013 and raised nearly $775,000 to support young adults affected by cancer.

We talked to Brad on a frigid winter day about the ride and the cause.

Have you ever done anything like this before? "I've done mission-type trips, but never done something as physically challenging."

Do you know anyone with cancer? "My grandmother passed away because of cancer. Also a young lady in my church (Metro-East Christian Fellowship in O'Fallon) -- I saw how it ravished her, how her youth was taken from her. It has been a very trying battle for her and her family."

What is the most you've ever ridden in a day? "70 miles. On the trip, we'll ride 6 to 9 hours a day and average 60 to 130 miles. We'll be gone June, July and the first part of August. I'm missing a family vacation."

How are you training? "I'm doing an absurd amount of riding."

How do you get bicycling in when it's cold? "I ride on a trainer three days a week and lift weights two days. When I'm on the trainer, it's a more challenging, condensed riding for 30 to 50 minutes at a time."

Is it boring? "I have one of my roommates from this area who sits down with me and we chat and listen to music. Sometimes, it's rough."

Are you athletic? "I go to Missouri Baptist on a volleyballl scholarship. I played two sports -- soccer and volleyball -- when I went to East (2011 graduate). I played baseball and basketball, and ran track for years as a kid. At East, I played volleyball the first year they had a team. I think my brother kind of got me into it. It was just another sport I could do in the spring. It was inside, so it was not freezing like baseball." Brad is also a rock climber who works at Upper Limits, a rock climbing gym and shop in St. Louis County.

What do you like about climbing? "I like how physcially challenging it is and how hard it is. It's the same with cycling. It's physicially challenging."

What kind of bike to you have? "I have a Giant now, but will be riding a Scott. That's the sponsor bike. We will ride the same bikes to look uniform like a team. They will give us jerseys."

What does your family think? "They are supportive of it. They always have supported me." Brad, the youngest of three, is the son of Tim and Peggy Buchanan, of Swansea.

Do you have any concerns? "Getting enough food to eat. Not burning to a crisp since I am a redhead."

How are you doing with raising money for your trip? "We have goals we have to meet -- February, $1,000; March, $2,000, and so on. By the time we go, we're supposed to have all the money we need to have. I've been sending out support letters.

I have 15 percent or so of my goal. (or about $750). A lot of friends, climbing buddies and family help. The Lord will provide. If He wants me to do it, it will happen."

Want to help Brad? The link to Brad's personal page is:http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/brad-buchanan/ or you can send a contribution in his name to 4K for Cancer, 921 E Fort Ave, Ste 325, Baltimore, MD 21230

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