Charlotte Ridgeway wouldn’t call herself a cyclist. In fact, she didn’t even own a bike before this summer. This not-so-small obstacle didn’t stop her, though, from strapping on a helmet and joining more seasoned riders in a 4,000-mile trek across the country to raise awareness for cancer research.
Setting off from Baltimore in June, Ridgeway crossed 15 states on her journey before arriving in San Diego on August 10. The ride was part of the 4K for Cancer program that supports the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
“I was thinking about getting an internship or doing some work. This was my last summer before graduation, though, so I wanted to do something adventurous,” said Ridgeway, the Student Government Association president. “This was probably the only time in my life that I could’ve done this, so I knew it was now or never.”
Ridgeway says she works out regularly and is nutrition conscious, but hadn’t played a team sport since her sophomore year of high school. After some encouragement from her sorority sisters and others at Towson, she saw a sign-up table in the University Union and decided to go for it.
The ride was leisurely with the experienced riders setting the pace, but never too fast for Ridgeway and others to keep up. The team would wake up by sunrise each day to begin their ride, often lasting until late in the afternoon. They would stop, eat dinner and sleep, as their bodies were ready to collapse.
“What struck me most during the whole ride were the incredible people we met along the way,” said Ridgeway. “They’d be out cheering for us, welcome us into their homes and feed us all dinner. Lots of times we ended up sleeping on their couches or in spare bedrooms.”
Ridgeway raised $4,700 for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults as her part of the program. Of the five groups that made the cross-country journey (four by bicycle and one group running), the 4K for Cancer raised nearly $775,000 for the charity.