Two students at Stony Brook University are planning to participate in a fundraiser for the Ulman Foundation starting on June 2 and 16, where they will be traveling across the United States to help raise money for cancer.
Zachary Shaps, a senior biology major and senator for Undergraduate Student Government, is participating in the 4k for Cancer, where he will be cycling from Baltimore to Seattle. His route includes stops at the Appalachian Mountains, Lake Michigan, Chicago and three national parks. His route begins Sunday, June 2 and ends Saturday, Aug. 10.
Natalie Korba, a senior sociology and psychology major, is also participating in the 4k for Cancer but will be running from San Francisco to Baltimore. Her route includes stops at the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains and St. Louis, Missouri. Her route begins Sunday, June 16 and ends Saturday, Aug. 3.
Shaps said he decided to participate because he has many connections to the cancer community and wanted to honor those connections.
“I want to bring awareness and raise funds for such an important cause,” Shaps said.
Korba said she’s participating in this because it combines the two things that she loves most — helping people and staying active.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet others who are my age who also share those passions, especially in the summer before I start my life after college,” Korba said.
Shaps first learned about the fundraiser when he saw an ad on Facebook. He started researching it and decided to join. Shaps said that he wanted to be part of something larger than himself.
“I knew I wanted to do something active and exciting, but also giving that I’m a pre-med, I always wanted to work with something advocacy-related in medicine,” he said.
Korba will be traveling in a van with a group of people who will take turns running. Each person runs between six and 16 miles, then gets in a van for the rest of the day.
“On our service days, we visit hospitals and other young adults,” she said. “We’re also giving away a scholarship using the money we raised.”
The scholarship goes towards helping young adults continue their education after being affected by cancer through their own diagnosis or a family member’s diagnosis. Each participant is required to raise over $4,000 for the Ulman Foundation if they want to participate. Korba has raised $4,517 and Shaps has raised $4,500.
Shaps, who plans to cycle the entire distance between Baltimore and Seattle, helped raise money by holding a rodeo back in his hometown of Bandera, Texas, where he raised $2,000 in one weekend.
Korba raised money by holding fundraisers at two restaurants and hosting a paint nite, which are parties where groups of people learn to paint portraits while drinking alcohol at an art studio.
The Ulman Foundation is a non-profit organization based in Baltimore that was founded in 1997 by Doug Ulman, a student-athlete at Brown University, who was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. The organization owns 4k for Cancer, which they acquired in 2011.
“We focus on supporting young adults and their families as they go through a cancer diagnosis that we call the cancer journey,” Brian Satola, Chief Operating Officer of the Ulman Foundation, said.
Satola said the events are totally student-led. One student directs a team that usually consists of 30 people. Shaps is the director of his team for his upcoming ride; he’ll be responsible for his team’s safety on the road, as well as handling any issues that may arise.
Interested applicants are required to fill out an online application and complete an interview with Ulman Foundation staff before they can register.
“We want people who have a connection to cancer, who have the ability and want to do this and for them to understand exactly what they’re getting into,” Satola said.
The Ulman Foundation initiatives include training social workers and then placing them in cancer centers. When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, the social worker offers counseling and support throughout the treatment process.
Satola said that throughout the years, the 4k for Cancer has become increasingly popular among young people, especially with Generation Zers.
“They’re active, they want to do stuff,” Satola said. “We have found that these people want to give back and get involved in a philanthropic aspect. I’ve argued before that this is the best internship a college student can have because they learn about themselves, being part of a team, and giving back.”