Austin Thacker is a Freshman at Grand Canyon University. In the summer of 2019, he will be traveling with a group of college-aged students on a 70-day, 4000+ mile ride from Baltimore to Seattle, raising money and awareness for the Ulman Foundation.
What is your connection to the cancer community?
During 8th grade, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer in my head, spine, ribs, kidneys, and a mass the size of a grapefruit wrapped around a main artery to my heart. After the countless, aggressive rounds of chemotherapy, Total Body Irradiation, Concentrated Radiation, seven surgeries, a relapse and a bone marrow transplant, I survived through the hope of my family, and the faith I had in God. Although after surviving multiple close encounters with death, the images did not leave my mind, and my positive viewpoints, the beauty I once saw in this world, was shattered like glass. Therefore, during high school I decided to write and publish a novel titled My Hand Mitten, a fictional piece I used to help fight the PTSD that developed during those days where survival was, no matter how fast I ran, always a mile away. For the first year of the publication, I have also agreed to have all the royalties for the novel go towards Make-a-Wish, which I believe is a very creditable foundation, and aided me in the publication as well. I also began a club called Ironwood Cares for Kids, a high school club that helped kids with cancer and disabilities, raising 1,233 novels during the last holiday season. I ran this club for two years during my high school career and am proud to say that their activities in the Tucson community are still current. The formation of this club is the pride of my young life, and from the hospital bed to the creation of multiple projects, my fight to advocate against cancer is never ending. Biking across the continental United States is currently where my heart lies, I am grateful to represent 4k for Cancer.
Why are you traveling 4,000 miles this summer with the Ulman Foundation?
I am traveling 4,000 miles for two specific reasons.
The first reason includes a tribute to the memories of two individuals, who will continue to reside in my heart till the day I die. Lylah Lee Patton and Sebastian Meyer are, and will forever be the two reasons why I will continue my involvement in the cancer community. Both of them were fighters by heart, with the ability to inspire others through the simplicity of a smile and taught the people around them how precious time truly is. Although even with the power of their genuine nature, they did not survive their battle, and even if a forest can benefit after devastating wild fires, there will always be charcoal covered areas that may never flourish again. I ride for them because they will always be my inspiration, my drive, and the reason why sunrises are so beautiful. Although the thoughts of their unneeded deaths will continue to reside as a darkened spot in my heart, I will continue to flourish towards the possibility for a cure and live on as a testimony that cancer should never imprison the innocent, but bring to light the possibility for sunrises to surpass sunsets. I want the world to change.
The second reason includes my desire to not only find a cure, but to let go of the past I remember too well, while spreading a message that cancer doesn’t define who you are. I wish to inspire and show that even if your toes are curling and it is hard to stand, doesn’t mean that one day you wouldn’t bike across the continental United States, and learn how to fly! I want to be an inspiration, and to give hope to the darkest hospital rooms in America, this would be more valuable then all the riches in the world, to show others that nothing is impossible!
2019 marks the 18th year of the 4K for Cancer sending young adults on journeys across the country in an effort to inspire hope and unite communities in the fight against cancer. The 4K for Cancer is a program of the Ulman Foundation (Ulman). Interested in joining the fight? Apply to be a rider or runner a at www.4kforcancer.org!
Over 72,000 young adults are diagnosed with cancer every year. Young adults (ages 15-39) face a variety of unique challenges with a cancer diagnosis including fertility preservation, social isolation, lack of insurance, delayed diagnosis, and more.
Ulman Foundation changes lives by creating a community of support for young adults, and their loved ones, impacted by cancer. With your support, Ulman is able to provide free support services and resources for the young adult cancer community including:
Cancer to 5K - a 12-week training program designed to introduce or reintroduce cancer survivors to physical activity.
Patient Navigation - a free program (onsite at cancer centers and remotely through our office) that ensures no young adult ever faces cancer alone. We provide one-on-one support & resources to young adults and their families to help them manage the cancer experience and long-term cancer survival.
Scholarships - a financial assistance program to help young adults continue their education after being affected by cancer through their own diagnosis or the diagnosis of a loved one.
Ulman House - This year Ulman will open a “home away from home” to provide free housing for young adult cancer patients, and their caregivers, in East Baltimore.
Your donation will help make these programs and our mission possible!
|Renee Crawley||04/04/2019||$25.00||Austin Thacker||03/29/2019||$476.00||A Big thank you to the Student Nurses Association of GCU for donating $300 to 4KForCancer! and also a bunch of sticker and book donations as well. WE ARE SO CLOSE!||Laurel Carey||03/20/2019||$200.00||Joe was very proud of you and so am I. Laurel Carey||Austin Thacker||03/20/2019||$78.00||Book and sticker purchases! Thank you to everyone who has donated!! We are SO CLOSE!!!||Austin Thacker||03/07/2019||$158.96||Cash donated to the Spring Market Event!! Thank you to everyone who donated!!!||Austin Thacker||03/06/2019||$135.00||Book and Sticker Sales through Venmo from the spring market event!! Thank you to everyone who donated!! Whoohoo!!||Austin Thacker||02/25/2019||$324.00||A BIG donation from an anonomyous donor, and $24 from smaller donors! Thank you all so much, and WE ARE GETTING SO CLOSE!!!||Stacie Jordan||02/20/2019||$100.00||Austin - you are such an inspiration! I can’t wait to hear all about it!!||Bonfire||02/14/2019||$66.88||Austin Thacker||02/13/2019||$214.25||Cash donations from the Pre-Med Event and some more Venmo anonymous donations! Again, thank you to everyone who helped fundraise and donated!!!||Austin Thacker||02/12/2019||$85.00||Venmo Money from the Pre Med Club Fair and anonymous donors! Thanks you to everyone who donated! The cash portion of the pre med club fair will be entered in either tomorrow or Thursday!||Austin Thacker||02/06/2019||$142.00||Sticker and Anonymous donations! Thank you to everyone who has donated!!||Renee Crawley||01/03/2019||$100.00||Hope it helps to get your bike!||Austin Thacker||01/03/2019||$200.00||Austin Thacker||12/27/2018||$100.00||Way to go Austin! Your "other Bisbee Grandmother!!!"||Anonymous Friend||12/23/2018||$75.00||Austin Thacker||12/21/2018||$109.00||From the Gift Wrapping Days at Barnes and Noble, as well as some sticker donations!! Thank you to everyone who showed up and donated on Tuesday and Wednesday! We are one step closer to our goal!||Austin Thacker||12/07/2018||$288.50||Sticker Donations!!! Thank you to everyone who donated, and because of you, after only 4 days we have raised almost $300!!! Thank you everyone!!!||Jane Kwiatkowski||12/02/2018||$40.00||May your world be filled with sunrises!||Savana Sasser||11/28/2018||$20.00||This is a super late birthday present, good luck Austin!||Anonymous Friend||11/24/2018||$100.00||Jennifer Monteleone||11/24/2018||$100.00||Go change the world. Love you.||Jesse Ladd||11/23/2018||$100.00||We're behind you Austin! Go! Fight! Live!||Maileokalani Faubion||11/06/2018||$30.00||Austin Thacker||11/01/2018||$30.00||I’m rooting for you Austin! You go man, so proud! -Austin||Paulina Bustamante||11/01/2018||$10.00||Anonymous Friend||10/26/2018||$10.00||Austin Thacker||10/26/2018||$50.00||Donald H Fletcher||10/24/2018||$50.00||Anonymous Friend||10/20/2018||$5.00||Kourtney Hotchkiss||10/19/2018||$10.00||Anonymous Friend||10/09/2018||$75.00||Austin Thacker||09/25/2018||$100.00|