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Maggie Knight '13 Puts Her Mettle to the Pedal

Ben LammSix students from Stony Brook University will join 114 others from colleges across the country on a coast-to-coast bike trip to raise money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Their bike trip across America, which will begin on June 2 in Baltimore, will take one of four routes across the United States to the Pacific. Stony Brook students Maggie Knight, Nick Lazzaro, Quinn O'Brien and Mario Ortega will wind up their 4,000-plus-mile trip in San Diego, while Rob Capuano and Angelica Scanu will end up in Portland, Oregon. The rides end on August 10.

For Stony Brook senior Maggie Knight, the trip is something she “just has to do.” She learned about the “4K for Cancer” from graduate student Kevin Barnett, who rode in 2012. The anthropology and nursing major from Newburgh, New York, has both personal and professional reasons for wanting to do this.

“I lost a high school friend to cancer,” she said, “and through my involvement with Seawolves Against Cancer and my volunteer work at Stony Brook’s Cancer Center, I have come to see firsthand the effect that cancer has, not only on the person afflicted but also on their families.” This past December, Knight spearheaded an effort in the Cancer Center to adopt a family. “We raised $400 for a family in need. Their baby was being treated for cancer and the father had just been laid off from his job. They were so happy to receive the gifts,” said Knight.

Knight chose this particular cause because it is specifically targeted to provide resources for young adults with cancer.  “I didn’t know that young adult cancer was is its own category,” said Knight. “And while there have been tremendous strides in survival rates for pediatric and adult cancers, the survival rate for young adults hasn’t really increased in the past 30 years.”

The Ulman Cancer Fund was established in 1997 as a way for Brown University student Doug Ulman — who was diagnosed with cancer during his sophomore year — and his family to offer other young adults with cancer support and resources to cope with the myriad issues that accompany a cancer diagnosis, such as questions of nutrition, physical activity, relationships and dating, and returning to the classroom. During the course of the next decade, the UCF growth has resulted in many programs and services available across the United States, including a nationally recognized scholarship program.

Each participant must raise a minimum of $4,500, roughly $1 for every mile he or she will travel. Knight has set a goal of $6,500. She launched her fundraising efforts with emails and letters to family and friends and plans to hold some events to raise both money and awareness for the cause. At the $2,000 mark, she receives her bicycle, which is donated to the riders. Until then, she is grateful for the Campus Recreation Center. “I’ve been working out on the Expresso bikes. I’ll be covering about 60 to 100 miles per day, so having the Rec Center here really has been great.”

Knight is no stranger to challenges or to spending her summers away from home. Two summers ago, she completed a study abroad program in Tanzania, secured through Stony Brook’s International Academic Programs office, and last year she spent the entire summer working at a camp for children with developmental disabilities.

This bike ride presents both a physical and personal challenge. “We’ll ride every day, rain or shine. And each day we will dedicate the ride to someone who has cancer or who we’ve lost to cancer.” She and fellow Stony Brook students plan to tweet and blog throughout the journey. Maggie is resolute in her determination to complete the ride. “If I can do this, I can do anything.”

Photo credit: John Griffin/Office of University Communications



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