Brittany Aune, a University of Louisiana at Lafayette junior majoring in early childhood education, is currently raising money for 4K For Cancer, which will involve a more than 4,000-mile journey across the country to raise awareness and aid for cancer patients.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of a community and to be involved,” Aune said. “And, I mean, 4K For Cancer is a great way to do that. By raising money, I’m going to be a part of UL’s community and Lafayette’s community, and every place we stop at, I’m going to be spreading the word about The Ulman Cancer Fund and what they do.”
Aune explained she found 4K For Cancer through Instagram, and subsequently, found out about The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, an affiliated nonprofit and charity organization that’s geared toward helping young adults.
When she saw how the organization was helping cancer patients, Aune said she decided to apply for one of the multiple bike/runs they offer young adults and was accepted. She will travel from Baltimore to San Francisco, which will involve 60 days of biking, 10 days of interspersed rest and events along the way — all during the summer of 2018.
Aune said she will have to cover the expenses to get to and from Baltimore and San Francisco. Food and lodging, however, will be covered by The Ulman Cancer Fund, which has worked with volunteers across the country to ensure participants are well taken care of.
Asked about travelling with strangers, Aune said she is “excited to meet new people and share experiences with them.”
During their rest days, Aune said the participants will be going to cancer research facilities and hospitals and handing out chemotherapy care bags to patients. There are also scholarships, she said, funded by the 4K For Cancer runs and rides and given to young adults who have been afflicted with cancer.
“We’re going to be giving one or two scholarships out to winners along the way,” Aune said.
According to 4kforcancer.org, donated money goes to the funding of Cancer to 5K (a run for cancer patients to become active), the National College Scholarship program and Young Adult Patient Navigation.
“I encourage all my students to give back to the community, and I support things like the RCAF (Ragin’ Cajuns Athletic Foundation) and fundraising for leukemia,” said Dayle Guillory, master instructor in UL Lafayette’s college of education and Aune’s academic adviser.
Guillory, who co-founded the Trinity Foundation of Louisiana with her daughter in 2016, said they donate to cancer research causes.
“I thought it was very admirable,” Guillory added about Aune’s decision, “and I told her my foundation would be willing to sponsor her.”
Aune has a personal reason for participating. She said when her family lived in Wisconsin, her younger sister had a friend, Bo, who passed away because of leukemia. When Bo was diagnosed, the local community rallied together around a common cause called the GO BO Foundation, which still exists to help cancer patients.
“Just seeing how difficult it was for my sister and my community in general,” Aune said, “that’s the main reason I wanted to do this.”
Aune broke the news to her sister she would be participating in the 4K For Cancer, which was difficult because she’ll be missing her graduation and said she feels guilty about it.
She said, however, her sister was “totally supportive of it, and glad I was doing it.”
Aune added her sister also wanted to join, but decided to wait because she would be starting her freshman year of college next year.
Aune has started fundraising for her $4,500 goal and training for the bike ride.
“I’ve always been really active. In high school, I did basketball, cross country and track, and now I’m an assistant coach in all three of those sports. I’ve always ran regularly, and now I’m biking regularly.”
Aune said two years ago, she participated in Swamp Base with the Boy Scouts of America, which involved canoeing for 61.6 miles a week.
“I think that helped me realize (I was fit). I didn’t die from doing that, so I’m going to be able to go biking the whole day,” she said.
Though she pointed out the two sports are different, she said she feels confident in her abilities.
“Sometimes I feel distant to people’s struggles,” Aune said, “so I think it’s going to be a great way to connect with people and see how some are struggling and fighting to live. I think that’s a humbling experience, and a great chance to meet incredible people.”
Currently, Aune said she has been hosting bake sales within the local Lafayette community. Soon, Aune said she will be required to host a bone marrow registry drive for her fundraising efforts, and she is in the planning stages for it to be on UL Lafayette’s campus.
Aune explained each participant in the 4K For Cancer is raising their own money as they journey across the states. For Aune, she said she’s never initiated a fundraiser herself, but she feels as if progress is being made.
Currently, $1,050 has been raised, and people can donate by going to ulman.z2systems.com/brittany-aune.