Just two weeks after graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Hartford’s Barney School of Business, Deanna Brossi of Upton, Mass., will put on her bike shorts and strap on her helmet to begin a 70-day, 4,000 mile cross-country bike ride with the 4K for Cancer team. She is riding to raise money for The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. Brossi and her family will arrive in Baltimore, Maryland a few days ahead of the May 31 send-off, as Brossi goes through final orientation sessions and last-minute training and physical checks to make sure she is ready.
Brossi and 29 other college-aged riders will travel between 50 and 100 miles a day on the journey, which begins at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, heads south to North Carolina, then west through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee and on to Little Rock, Ark. From there, the riders head to Kansas City and then to the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver, Colo., on to Lake Tahoe, Calif., then down the coast, arriving in San Diego on Aug. 8. (See a map on the 4K for Cancer website.) She will be blogging along the way so people can follow her journey.
“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. In addition to the grueling ride from Baltimore to San Diego, the 4K for Cancer team members will do community service work with young adults battling cancer in the cities and towns where they stop. They will volunteer in hospitals, community centers, and patients’ homes across the country.
Brossi, who has ridden in fund-raising biking events before with her father but never done a ride that lasted longer than a weekend, was motivated to undertake this challenge after seeing her grandfather and her mother battle against cancer. “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. 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,” Brossi said. Her mother, a registered nurse, spent the next two years battling through chemotherapy and radiation. “Witnessing my mother continue to care for her family and help others in her profession throughout her ordeal was astonishing to me.”
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.
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. She has raised more than $6,000 from family and friends, including members of the University of Hartford community. “I am truly grateful for all the amazing feedback that I have received from fellow students, professors, and even Public Safety officers who recognized me and told me how inspiring this journey is to them!,” she said. To support Brossi and the fight against cancer.