Franklin & Marshall students often tackle interesting projects during the summer – internships, academic research, study abroad and more. But one is part of a team running across the United States to raise money to fight cancer.
Tyler Lu, a rising sophomore from San Jose, Calif., is one of 22 college-aged students running from San Francisco to New York City. They left via the Golden Gate Bridge June 19 and will finish the trip of more than 4,000 miles Aug. 6 by running across the Brooklyn Bridge. The 4K for Cancer effort supports the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, which specifically assists cancer patients between the ages of 15 and 39 and provides guidance and support for their families.
Lu says that he runs anywhere between six and 18 miles a day, and he estimates that he personally will run approximately 530 miles during the trip. He says any physical pain he endures this summer is nothing compared to that experienced by the two people he is honoring by his participation.
"I'm running for my brother, who was diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age," Lu says. His brother is now in remission and attending college. "Then, two years ago, my cousin and guardian at the time was diagnosed with breast cancer; she's the other person I'm honoring. Her situation hit even closer to home because she was a competitive runner and triathlete at the time, and she went from living a full and healthy life to not having enough energy to stay awake for a 30-minute show on television. Luckily, she also is in remission and is starting to live a healthy lifestyle again."
Lu, a member of F&M's rowing team, has completed nearly 30 half-marathons in his life, and says he was looking for "a fun race for the summer." When he discovered that 90 percent of the proceeds from the run went to patients, he signed up and convinced his best friend from California to join him on the team. Team members run in pairs relay-style. A rest day for the team is built into the trip every four to six days.
Lu already has run across three state lines. He says one highlight was a stretch from Lava Hot Springs, Idaho to Jackson, Wyoming. "I loved just the variety and beauty of the landscape," he recalls. "We saw natural hot springs; we saw wild, snow-covered ski slopes."
When the runners head into New York City, they will run as a marathon team – during their cross-country trip only a couple were running at a time – and finish at the Brooklyn Bridge.
"That will be fun, and my teammates on the Diplomat crew team will be joining me for a couple of miles," Lu says. "I'm looking forward to seeing them again in New York."
Lu plans to major in environmental science and minor in women's and gender studies. He has enjoyed the reaction of people along the cross-country route.
"People are just amazed; they think we surely have to be driving part of it or even most of it," he says. "But when they hear us describe it, they often tell us stories about cancer and their own family and friends and they want to help out with donations."
"I'm running for my brother, who was diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age."