Starla Pointer / News-Register##St. Barnabas Church members say goodbye to some of the 4K for Cancer cyclists as other riders gather for a morning cheer. The group stayed overnight in the church
and had dinner at the soup kitchen.
Starla Pointer / News-Register##St. Barnabas Church members say goodbye to some of the 4K for Cancer cyclists as other riders gather for a morning cheer. The group stayed overnight in the church and had dinner at the soup kitchen.
Starla Pointer / News-Register##Members of the 4K for Cancer group set out Friday
morning from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in McMinnville . Church members hosted the group, which rode across the country.
Starla Pointer / News-Register##Members of the 4K for Cancer group set out Friday morning from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in McMinnville . Church members hosted the group, which rode across the country.
By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Anti-cancer cyclists stop in Mac

They described their trip and their reason for it during an overnight stop at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. The congregation welcomed members of the 4K for Cancer group as they arrived, then listened to a presentation they gave that evening, following dinner at the soup kitchen on the church’s lower floor.

“When we walk in someplace wearing our ‘4K’ shirts, people ask,” said Pflaum, one of 29 cyclists making the trip.

“It’s great. You get to tell your story, and they share their experience with cancer.”

The riders, all in their early 20s, left Baltimore on May 31. They have been staying at churches, schools or private homes.

In Oregon, they cycled directly to the coast, where they dipped their toes into the Pacific Ocean at Cannon Beach. After stops in Tillamook and Lincoln City, they drove on to McMinnville. They stopped for a night in Beaverton next, then concluded their ride in Portland.

The nucleus of the 4K for Cancer group, which also included several older trip leaders, hails from the Baltimore area. Pflaum, for instance, is a Maryland native who just graduated from Towson University.

Others, however, claim residence at points all across the country. The only thing they all have in common is experience with cancer.

A few are cancer survivors survivors themselves. Most have watched a friend or relative fight the disease.

“My aunt, Laima Rivers, had breast cancer, and so did my very best friend’s mom,” Pflaum said.

The two women inspired her to participate in the trip. Along the way, Pflaum kept in touch with her aunt through texts and phone calls.

“She’s fine now. She’s awesome!” Pflaum said.

To qualify for the trip, each rider had to raise at least $4,500 for cancer-fighting efforts. Some raised two or three times that.

They’ve been collecting more along the way. Many people donated to the cause when they met the riders, attired in bright “4K for Cancer” shirts or sweatshirts announcing “Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults,” the nonprofit with which they are affiliated.

“This trip has been incredible and eye-opening,” Pflaum said. “It’s amazing how generous people are.

“I’m astounded by the number of people impacted by cancer. I’ve seen how far you can go if you work together.”

She also joked, “I’ve learned that there’s nothing like a warm shower after a long bike ride.”

Pflaum said hearing so many stories about cancer on her way across the country has given her a new purpose for her life.

When she finished college, she was planning to become a physical therapist. Now, she’s decided to become an emergency medical technician as she works her way through medical school.

After sleeping at St. Barnabas, she and the other anti-cancer riders rose early and said their goodbyes. Then they gathered in a circle behind the church for the same morning cheer they’ve been using since they started out.

“Where are we from?” shouted one rider, and the others chorused, “Baltimore!”

“Where are we going? Portland!”

Then, after exchanging a few more hugs and handshakes with their hosts, they mounted their bikes and pedaled away.

“Where are we going?” one of the cyclists asked another as they rolled down the driveway.

“Coffee shop!” the other shouted.

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