Carrie Cota, a sophomore at Rocky Mountain College, will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 49-day trip this summer. She will run over 4,000 miles from San Francisco to New York City, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
It’s been a long process for Cota.
“I officially decided to do it last spring,” said Cota. “It has been a full year since I started.”
Cota lost her grandmother to cancer before she was able to understand what it meant. Her journey across the country will help fund programs that aid families and individuals who suffer from cancer.
“We stay in a different town every night,” said Cota” “If you are a leg leader you get assigned a section of the trip to find hosts. I’m one of those and there are six others on the team.”
Leg leaders are in charge of contacting local fire departments, churches, schools, or any organization that can host about 25-30 students. This year marks the 17th year of the 4K for Cancer, which sends young adults across the country in an effort to inspire hope and unite communities in the fight against cancer. The 4K for Cancer is a program of The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (UCF).
“We will have a sleeping mat, a sleeping bag, a backpack and a duffle bag,” said Cota. “That’s what we will be living with from June 17 until August 4.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 28, RMC will host a bone marrow drive in conjunction with the run.
Over 70,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year. Young adults face a variety of unique challenges with a cancer diagnosis including fertility preservation, social isolation, lack of insurance, and delayed diagnosis among others.
“We average individually 6 to 16 miles a day,” said Cota. “Six miles will be the shortest day and 16 miles will be our longest day.”
Each day, the runners pick a person who they will honor during their run. Each person writes the name of the specific person they picked on their calves. Every athlete participating in the run across the country has to raise $4500 before they are able to go. All of the proceeds raised will go directly to the programs that help cancer victims and their families.
“I’ve been raising money since the start of the school year,” said Cota. “I’m currently at $3,500 and we have until May to raise that amount.”
According to its website, the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, impacted by cancer. The Ulman Cancer Fund is able to provide free support services and resources for the young adult cancer community.
Some of the services provided include a 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to physical activity and a free program that ensures no young adult ever faces cancer alone.
Cota has arranged various fundraisers around the community and several individuals within the RMC community have donated to the cause. She even created numerous pieces of art to sell as a way to gain revenue for the cause.
“My biggest fundraiser yet was Pizza Ranch,” said Cota. “I was surprised that more students came than adults because of the notion that college students don’t have money, but they were there because they knew me, or because they wanted to support the cause. That meant a lot.”
A sponsorship from Brooks Sports Inc. may become a reality for Cota as she prepares to run across the country.
“I got these forms to fill out because Brooks does help non-profits,” said Cota. “They answered within two days. It would be great if they could help.”
According to Cota, the RMC community has been extremely supportive and numerous staff members and students have already donated to her cause. Cota’s team has raised over $150,000 for the organization.
“I’m running for those who can’t.” Cota said.
If you want to donate to her cause or learn more about Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults contact Carrie Cota at firstname.lastname@example.org.