UWP alumni bike cross-country for children's cancer research
PLATTEVILLE - Two recent University of Wisconsin-Platteville graduates will take to the road this summer to raise money and awareness for childhood cancer research. Leaving from San Francisco, Calif., on June 16, Becky Fedak and Chris Olson, both 2004 UWP environmental engineering graduates, will join 15 other cyclists to ride across the United States. They will complete their trip when they roll into Norfolk, Va., on June 25. "Ride to Reach the Day" is the cornerstone event for Team Will, a group of cyclists based in Sacramento, Calif., that is riding in memory of young William Kiefer, who, at only 17 months of age, lost his battle with a rare form of cancer on Aug. 1, 2004.
During the 10-day, relay-style ride, each team member will bike up to 100 miles each day, stopping at children's hospitals along the route to visit with patients and share their hope to find a cure. The ride will take them through cities, such as Salt Lake City, Utah; Grand Junction, Colo.; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Raleigh, N.C. A detailed list of cities, the specific rout and schedule are available online at the Team Will website. In addition to participating in the ride, each Team Will cyclist has committed to raise at least $2,250, which will be donated to CureSearch National Childhood Cancer Foundation (CureSearch). It is Team Will's goal to give upwards of $100,000 to CureSearch for cancer research by the end of 2006. Fedak and Olson were inspired to join this effort when they heard their co-worker, Ken Kiefer, tell his story about his son, William, and what he planned to do in his memory. Fedak said, "I was touched by his story and what he was planning to do; I couldn't help being involved in this great cause." Since hearing the plan last summer, they not only decided to join the ride but also have helped in organizing this event. Olson said that the small size of the group sets them apart from some of the larger organizations that put on similar events across the country. Including the cyclists and additional behind-the-scenes organizers, there are less than 50 people working together to make this happen. "It's really a grassroots effort; most of the riders have an active role in organizing. ... Everyone is planning a part of it. ... It's pretty ambitious," said Olson.
Fedak and Olson also expressed that this ride allows them to set personal goals and get involved with the community outside of their normal workday. Olson said that his years at UW-Platteville prepared him for a busy lifestyle and taught him that it's important to have outside interests. Olson related, "I learned how to be busy at school. You need to have those extracurricular activities - something besides just work - something that gets your mind on to something else. ... I saw this cause as a great way to get involved and work towards a goal." Fedak and Olson both majored in environmental engineering at UW-Platteville. In addition to schoolwork, Fedak participated in track and field, and Olson played on the baseball team. Both now work as water resource engineers for MWH in Sacramento, Calif. They are currently training for the ride. Team Will welcomes support and participation from citizens across the United States for this event. Cyclists that live along the route may ride with Team Will for a few hours (or a day), provided they can meet the required minimum pace of 15 miles per hour. Olson said, "We would really enjoy meeting some UWP alumni along the way, whether it is for a few hour ride-a-long, or just a greeting as we pass through town!" Persons interested in finding out more about this cause, the route schedule and how to make a donation, may visit the Team Will website at www.team-will.org. By clicking the "Donate" button, or going straight to the webpage at"http://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr, donors can help Fedak and Olson meet their pledge goal by entering either of their names in the "Payment For" box on the "Check Out" page. Donations will be given to Team Will and CureSearch. Questions or comments may be forwarded to Fedak at email@example.com and/or Olson at .firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Chris Olson, associate engineer, MWH, (916) 418-8253,email@example.com
Prepared by: Kate McKinney, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194,firstname.lastname@example.org