While he likes to visit new places and spend time outdoors, Chin Kiong Tee doesn’t consider himself an overly adventurous person.
But, this summer, the Malaysia native and biochemistry major at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln broke out of his shell and biked across the country.
“This was the opportunity of a lifetime,” Tee said. “Every mile we rode, every river we jumped in, every moment we spent together has been extremely memorable.”
Tee joined 24 other college-aged bikers on a 4,500-mile, 14-state, coast-to-coast ride that raised funds for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The fund is a nonprofit organization working to create a community of support for young adults impacted by cancer.
The journey, which started in Baltimore, Maryland, and concluded in Portland, Oregon, took 70 days to complete.
Before taking off each morning, each biker would dedicate the day’s ride to one person. Tee dedicated his ride to his father, who died as a result of stomach cancer. Inspiration from watching his father battle the disease right up to the end is what led Tee to support others in the cancer community.
“As a student, I am fully aware that I do not have the financial ability to provide sufficient funding for the cancer community,” Tee said. “However, I will do whatever is within my power to positively impact the cause by spreading the awareness of cancer.”
He learned about the Ulman Cancer Fund 4K for Cancer while scrolling through Instagram. Tee immediately knew he was going to participate, started the application and began raising the $4,500 needed to participate. All funds raised go to scholarships for cancer survivors and to help patients in treatment.
Tee also got to work making sure his body was ready to pedal between 50 to 120 miles daily through a variety of conditions.
“The most challenging days were those when we faced a strong headwind after only getting by with a snack bar for breakfast,” Tee said.
Participants primarily relied on food donations for meals throughout the trip. Churches, schools, libraries, fire stations and other community groups would often come together to provide the group with a safe place to sleep. They also sought donations for items to aid them on the road, such as sunscreen and gift cards.
The bikers also participated in service events to provide support to cancer patients, delivered scholarships to young adults and learned about cancer treatments.
“Nebraska was by far my favorite state to ride through,” Tee said. “It felt great when we rode through places I was familiar with and everyone treated us so well.”
Beyond the landmarks he saw and extreme heat he biked in, his takeaway from the journey is the same one he started with in Baltimore on June 3.
“My mission for the trip aligned with the mission of the Ulman Cancer Fund, which is a world in which no young adult faces cancer alone,” Tee said.