Ryan Donaghey died of a type of nasal cancer at 21 and his girlfriend Katie Gundlach will never be the same.
He was diagnosed with sinonasal undifferntiated carcinoma (SNUC), a very rare form of cancer that is often diagnosed too late, in summer 2011 and underwent two rounds of chemotherapy, two surgeries and three rounds of radiation treatment.
He passed away in March 2013.
Gundlach, 22, mentioned, “It was shocking that someone so vibrant, so young, and so seemingly healthy could be diagnosed with such a terrible disease so suddenly.”
The 22-year-old is a student at the University of Maryland College Park. She couldn’t pay attention at school and hoped to do something meaningful to honour her boyfriend’s heartbreaking death.
When her mother introduced her to the 4K for Cancer Ride Across America program, she knew that it was the answer she was looking for.
The program provides the opportunity for people to bike ride 4,000 miles across the U.S.
Gundlach chose to make a difference for others and that’s what the non-profit organization that supports, educates and connects cancer sufferers as well as their loved ones, aims to do.
With no prior experience with bicycling, she prepared several months before her June 1 start in Baltimore. She took spin classes to increase her strength and worked on her riding distance.
Now, Gundlach and her 4K group have already biked over 1,300 miles. They are expected to finish the course on August 9 in San Fransisco.
Along their journey, the group had stopped to participate in various service organizations.
Last year, over 125 people participated in the 4K program and raised almost $775,000 to support young adult cancer patients.
This year will be 4K’s 13th year bike riding across America.