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SMC senior tackles cross country ride

Kaitlyn Rabach | Monday, April 8, 2013

Saint Mary’s senior Sarah Eisenberg, along with 24 other individuals, will embark on a cross-country bike tour this summer sponsored by the non-profit organization Illini 4000 for Cancer.

The 75-day tour will kick off on May 22 in New York City and will end on July 31st in San Francisco.

“The organization is run out of the University of Illinois,” Eisenberg, a native of Tinley Park, Ill., said. “It started in the fall of 2006 and the first summer bike ride was in the summer of 2007. Its basic mission is to end the fight against cancer.”

No individual is immune from the effects of cancer, Eisenberg said.

“Cancer takes the lives of so many far too soon, leaving family, friends and all of those that come in contact with the person heartbroken,” she said.

Eisenberg said she first heard of the annual bike ride last July and instantly thought of her two grandmothers who both lost their battle with the disease.

“My Grandma Eisenberg, who I was extremely close with, was diagnosed with melanoma about five years ago,” Eisenberg said. “My sophomore year of college [in 2011] she was diagnosed with leukemia as well. These two cancers were just a lethal combination and she died four weeks after her diagnosis. My other grandma, Grandma Keller, lost her five year battle with lung cancer in June of that same year. These were two very poignant women in my life and their deaths were earth-shattering to my entire family.”

The organization requires each biker to raise a minimum of $3,000, Eisenberg said. Overall the Illini 4000 for Cancer would like to raise $100,000.

“Both my hometown and the larger Saint Mary’s-Notre Dame communities have been very monetarily supportive,” Eisenberg said. “So far, I have raised $7,000. I even received a large donation from Stach & Lui, an information technology company in San Francisco. I’ll be wearing their logo across the country.”

Before she signed up for the cross-country tour, Eisenberg said she had never really biked. With the help of Lisa and Greg Mueller, local triathlon athletes, Eisenberg said her training is running very smoothly.

“The camaraderie and helpfulness I have encountered with my training here in South Bend has been absolutely incredible,” Eisenberg said. “Our cyclist instructor at Saint Mary’s introduced me to the Mueller’s and they have created weekly work out plans for me. Lisa is also a nutritionist and she has been very helpful with my training.”

Eisenberg said her days will begin at 6:30 a.m. every morning and each day will consist of about 5 hours of cycling.

“We’ll wake up and start cycling for about three hours,” Eisenberg said. “We will then stop for lunch. After lunch we will continue cycling for another two hours until we reach our destination for the night. Different colleges, churches and community centers will be hosting us overnight.”

Along the way, the group will be stopping at different cancer wards and hospitals to gain a better understanding of cancer research, said Eisenberg.

“I know we are visiting the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for sure,” Eisenberg said. “We will be documenting the entire trip and will be meeting with different hospital personnel and cancer patients. We really want to get to know what it is like to be a cancer patient here in America.”

Eisenberg said she believes new research in the field looks promising.

“All I really want to do with this bike ride is raise some funds and awareness,” Eisenberg said. “If I am able to give one cancer patient one more day with his or her family than that is enough for me.”

Eisenberg realizes this journey will be difficult at times, but said the difficulty will be nothing compared to what cancer patients have to encounter every day.

“We literally will be traveling uphill at times, but I am always going to remember cancer patients are riding uphill every day and it is not their choice,” Eisenberg said. “Remembering this will keep me pushing to reach my goal. It will get me across the country.”