Carrie Cota, a junior at Rocky Mountain College, spent her summer running 4,000 miles across the country for The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Cota participated in what is titled “4K for Cancer,” which involves six teams running various routes across the country in an attempt to raise money for young adults afflicted by cancer.
Cota’s group, Team New York, began their journey in San Francisco and ended in New York. Cota stated, “It’s called 4K for 4,000 miles give or take, but I did 457 miles on my own in technically 39 days because we had 10 days of rest.”
The goal of running 4,000 miles isn’t only about raising money for young adults with cancer, it’s also about running for those who can’t. Cota stated that one of the most rewarding parts of her journey was what her team was able accomplish on their rest days.
“We had rest days and on our rest days we got to do service projects,” said Cota. “Most of those included visiting hospitals and visiting patients. That was probably one of the most rewarding parts because sometimes you’re out there and you feel like you aren’t really doing a lot, but to get to sit and talk to them is really inspiring.”
Cota was so touched by some of the patients she met that she admitted, oftentimes, the running wasn’t even the hardest part of her journey. “I feel like lots of people think running is the hardest part, which at times it was, but honestly sometimes it was getting past the emotional part of it. You would just get touched by somebody who has been affected by cancer and it was emotionally draining at times,” stated Cota.
Cota was even touched by members of the Rocky community along her journey. She dedicated many of her runs to RMC people who are affiliated with cancer in some form. Many of these people included family members of her teammates from the RMC cross country team, basketball players, and a list of people that she had acquired from faculty, staff and students during one of her fundraisers.
When Cota would dedicate a run to somebody, she would write their name on her calf. She stated that somebody from the Rocky community had come to her art show fundraiser last year and shared a story about his grandfather’s battle with cancer. “He had written me a letter saying his grandpa had cancer, and when he saw the photo of my leg with his grandpa’s name on it, it was a really cool bonding moment,” stated Cota.
Cota described her journey as being “life changing.”
“I mean, honestly, you get back and people are like, ‘How was it?’ And I just can’t really explain it. It’s such a bigger thing. It is a difficult thing and it takes a lot of motivation, but it’s worth it. It is the best thing I’ve ever done,” she continued.
By the end of her journey, Cota’s team was able to raise a total of $135,000 for young adults with cancer. All six teams earned a combined total of $887,683.
Cota encourages anybody who is interested in participating in 4K for Cancer to visit 4kforcancer.org.