Two Rowan biology students pedal more than 4,000 miles to battle cancer
Imagine a 70-day bicycle ride from Baltimore, Md., to Seattle, Wash. Imagine the hardships. Imagine the passion and the determination that drove you to the finish line. Imagine achieving the implausible.
Two Rowan University biology students and New Egypt, N.J., residents, Jaimelynn Kisthardt and Dalton Trembow, achieved the implausible. This summer, Kisthardt and Trembow rode 4,432 miles in 70 days for The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The fund’s mission is “to enhance lives by supporting, educating, and connecting young adults and their loved ones affected by cancer,” according to the organization.
Kisthardt’s mother passed away in 2007 after battling stage II lung cancer for two years. Four years later Kisthardt had an encounter with a college professor while on a trip to Washington, D.C. The professor was talking about the 4K-cancer fundraising bicycle ride. Instantly, Kisthardt knew what she needed to do.
The wheels start to turn
Kisthardt told her boyfriend, Trembow, about the exciting event that brings together a large group of young people to support young adults with cancer. Trembow figured he had no choice in the matter and together they began training and researching.
The duo trained vigorously for more than five months. Even with all the training, Kisthardt and Trembow were not fully prepared for the challenges of their endeavor.
“The first week was definitely the hardest part of the whole trip,” Kisthardt said. “We did the Appalachian Mountains when we started on day two. It was an 88-mile day.”
Kisthardt and Trembow realized that with each passing day, they were recovering faster. By the time they reached Wyoming, the trip wasn’t as challenging.
“Eventually, your body does adjust and you find yourself waking up a lot easier in the morning.” Trembow said. “The last quarter of the trip wasn’t as tiring.”
The riders reached the highest point of their travel in South Dakota at 9,666 feet. Elevations that high can cause difficulties breathing because the air is thinner. But it didn’t hinder their performance.
A bumpy ride
The two did, however, face difficulties of their own during the trip.
Trembow is large. He is about six-foot-five and weighs 255 pounds. He experienced problems with the wheels and spokes on his bicycle.
“They were literally crushing underneath me,” Trembow said.
Trembow even lost a day of riding because of bicycle complications. Eventually he was able to purchase new discounted wheels that supported him.
Kisthardt faced difficulties of her own along the rigorous journey. As each day passed Kisthardt noticed things that constantly reminded her of her mother. Her journey rang with remembrance, from lighthouses to bear-claw necklaces.
The oddest and most difficult part for Kisthardt happened when she read the host on the list for Chamberlain, S.D. – St. Joseph’s Indian School.
“The name looked really familiar and I remembered that my mom used to regularly donate to an Indian school, but I wasn’t sure which one,” Kisthardt said. “I texted my dad, and he said he wasn’t sure either.”
Out of curiosity, Kisthardt’s father looked into his old checkbooks. The host was the same school to which Kisthardt’s mother donated money.
Kisthardt mentioned in her blog, “Here I am, cycling across the country in her memory, and end up at this school, which she helped make possible, in the middle of nowhere. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was meant to be there.”
Kisthardt had the opportunity her mother never had – to see her donations at work.
Kisthardt and Trembow said they experienced many different things on their journey: passion, love, loss, gratitude, recognition and ambition. The 70-day journey started with dipping their back tires in the Atlantic Ocean and ended after dipping their front tires in the Pacific Ocean.