LUMBERTON — Lumberton resident Maria Parker just took another big step toward her goal of raising $1 million to fight brain cancer.
Or rather, a big pedal.
A total of $48,118 was raised for the nonprofit Parker founded, 3000 Miles to a Cure, during the Race Across America, a cross-country bicycle trek that two cyclists — donning yellow and blue 3000 Miles to a Cure jerseys — took on last month.
“I am so grateful to all of you in our 3000 Miles to a Cure community. Each of you gave so that those impacted by brain cancer might have hope and a chance for a future. Some of you gave money, some donated time away from your families and jobs, many gave up sleep, some prayed and followed along, some of you did all of these,” Parker wrote in a post on the 3000 Miles to a Cure website. “Words of thanks are so little in comparison to the goodness of this great act of service, love and community. No one finishes Race Across America alone and brain cancer will never be cured by a few. Thank you for joining with us.”
The riders, Rob DeCou and Marshall Reeves, pedaled from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland, finishing on June 26 and June 27, respectively. On the way, fans pledged their support via donations to the nonprofit, which Parker founded after her late sister was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“I want to fight for those people in the future who are going to get this diagnosis … There’s a sense that Jenny’s life and death has inspired this movement to do something for other people,” Parker said in a video posted to the organization’s Facebook.
All of the proceeds will go directly to brain cancer research, and the total could keep climbing. The organization had raised more than $166,000 before this year’s Race Across America.
Parker in 2012 was the first woman to finish the coast-to-coast ride and was along this year to document the journey and provide the support of someone who has been through RAAM herself. Along the 3,000-mile route, riders faced flat tires, oppressive heat and exhaustion.
DeCou, who lives in California, took on the Race Across America in honor of a friend, Christina Ahmann Nevill, who died of brain cancer.
“She continues to inspire me by how she chose to live her life and love those around her regardless of what she was going through. Even brain cancer,” DeCou said in post during the race.
For Reeves, who is from Florida, the Race Across America that began on June 14 was a third attempt at completing the trek.
“RAAM is about the dumbest thing to ever try, let alone three times,” he wrote on the 3000 Miles to a Cure site. “In a lot of ways, it relates directly to our fight against cancer. It’s never easy, often frustrating, but the only way to really fail is to give up. So in RAAM, as in the cancer fight, we haven’t failed, we just haven’t won yet.”
Sarah Willets can be reached at 910-816-1974 or on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.