After this year’s Commencement ceremony, most members of the class of 2015 will be taking some time to relax and bask in the glow of achievement of having earned their undergraduate degrees. Deanna Brossi, a senior majoring in business management in the Barney School of Business, has chosen a different way of celebrating — she will be setting off on a roughly 4,000 mile cross-country bike ride from Baltimore to San Diego with the 4k for Cancer team, to raise money for The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
At first, the idea of riding 4,000 miles across the country “sounded really daunting. My parents thought I was crazy,” Brossi said. But they also understood her passion for wanting to raise money for the fight against cancer, which stems from seeing members of her family, including her grandfather and her mother, battle forms of this disease over the past 10 years.
“My first experience with cancer was watching my grandfather battle lung cancer until his passing in 2003,” Brossi said. “I had never experienced a loss before, and his passing, to this day, is one of the hardest experiences I have ever had to deal with. The person who devoted most of her time to his treatment was my mother, who used her skills as a registered nurse and love for my grandfather to help him push through his physical and emotional limitations. Eight years later, my mother was the one who needed support through her battle with cancer as she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer during my first semester of college in October 2011. She spent the next two years battling the cancer with chemotherapy and radiation, although to a stranger you probably would never have noticed,” Brossi said. “Witnessing my mother continue to care for her family and help others in her profession throughout her ordeal was astonishing to me.”
“My mother, along with other family members who have fought cancer, serve as my motivation to be as strong as they were in anything that I do,” she said. Brossi notes that since her mother’s diagnosis, Deanna has actively participated each year in Breast Cancer Awareness walks and Relay for Life events. “I have the desire to change the lives of those affected by cancer, and I am always looking for the next opportunity to help the cancer community in any way that I can,” she said.
Representing the University of Hartford, Brossi is one of 30 college students from around the country that will be riding for this cause. In addition to riding 4,000 miles in 70 days, the 4k for Cancer team will be undertaking community service work in the cities and towns where they stop, helping young adults battling cancer by volunteering in hospitals, centers, and their homes across the country.
Brossi has ridden in fund-raising biking events before with her father, but has never done a ride that lasted longer than a weekend. So she has been training strenuously for this ride for several months now, following a plan laid out for her (and the other riders) by the Ulman Cancer Fund, which has put on rides like this every summer since 2001. The organization also provides bikes for the riders, as well as arranging places for them to eat and sleep along the way.
This 70-day ride, in which the bikers will ride between 50 and 100 miles a day, begins at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on May 31, and heads south to North Carolina. Then the route is west through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee and on to Little Rock, Ark. From there, the riders head to Kansas City and then west to the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver. The route continues west to Lake Tahoe, Calif., and then down the coast, arriving in San Diego on Aug. 8. (Here’s a link to the map of the route.)
“This ride will prove to be one of the most rigorous and challenging experiences of my life,” Brossi admits, “but I know that the people I meet along the way will motivate me and further inspire me to fight as hard as they do every day. I cannot think of a better reason to travel 4,000 miles across the country,” she says.
To support the fight against cancer and support Brossi on her ride, click here.