BLACKSBURG, Va. – Two Virginia Tech students are giving a whole new meaning to taking a cross-country run.
Isabelle Stern and Ashley Cooper will run from the West Coast to the East Coast starting in June, to raise awareness and money for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
At first, Cooper thought the 4K for Cancer was only a 4-kilometer race.
"I thought it was a small race, and I thought, 'Oh, I'll sign up to do that,'" Cooper said. "It helps a good cause, it'll probably take less than 30 minutes of my day."
Cooper quickly learned the 4K for Cancer is a 4,000 mile run from San Francisco to Baltimore, which didn't change her mind about participating.
"It would raise a ton of money for it, and then I'm also super passionate about traveling and I love exercising," Cooper said.
Cooper has also had family members and friends who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Stern said a family friend's fight with kidney cancer and a desire to do something adventurous inspired her to get involved. She said she learned about the 4K for Cancer through a web search.
"I was just really excited about it," Stern said. "I love to run and meet new people, and everyone knows me for doing crazy activities!"
Cooper and Stern didn't meet each other until after both had applied to participate in the program and were accepted. Cooper said she was excited to see another Virginia Tech student on the list of 4K team members. The two have bonded since then and trained together since January.
"Each month they would just add on a few more minutes, or a couple more miles, and now we're up to 10-12 miles a day," Cooper said.
The 4K for Cancer will start in June in San Francisco and wind its way across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Grand Canyon, and over the Missouri River, before it ends 49 days later in Baltimore.
"We're not just going with our families on a road trip, stopping in hotels and all of the touristy spots," Stern said. "We're actually seeing communities all around the United States."
A team of runners will work together to complete the 4,000-mile journey. Cooper and Stern are excited to meet their teammates.
"I think it's going to be a really cool experience being surrounded by people who care so much about an issue that they're willing to run across the country," Cooper said.
The 4K to Cancer Team Baltimore will also spend time with some of the young adults the Ulman Cancer Fund works to support.
"We're also going to have the chance to meet with some patients and their families and pass out scholarships to young adults who were diagnosed with cancer while they were pursuing their education," Cooper said.
Both Stern and Cooper are very excited about their upcoming journey.
"The power of using our feet to go across the country is so cool," Stern said.
You can donate to Stern's fundraising page here: https://ulman.z2systems.com/isabelle-stern
You can donate to Cooper's fundraising page here: https://ulman.z2systems.com/ashley-cooper
You can learn more about the Ulman Cancer Fund here: http://ulmanfund.org/