Parker Donaldson had barely reached double-digits in age when he participated in his first charitable bike ride.
"I was in elementary school when I cycled in the Camp For All Hilltop Ride with my father," he says.
Encouraged by years of cycling in the Texas Hill Country, Donaldson took on a bigger challenge once he reached high school: the MS150 ride benefiting multiple sclerosis research.
"I participated throughout high school, so when I got to college, I immediately looked for a way to continue cycling with a purpose," he says.
He quickly discovered Texas 4000, an organization at The University of Texas at Austin that aims to share hope, knowledge and charity through leadership development, grant making and its cornerstone event, a 4,000-plus-mile bike ride from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska. Since its inception in 2004, Texas 4000 has awarded more than $3.7 million in grants toward cancer research, including over $1.5 million to MD Anderson.
"Everyone has a story and a reason for embarking on this seemingly impossible mission," says Donaldson, now in his senior year. "We bike for those who cannot and for those who live daily with the possibility that they may not be able to do so tomorrow."
On June 1, Donaldson and his 68 teammates set off on their 70-day journey, splitting into three routes to Alaska. Parker was on the Rockies route, which took him north through Dallas; into Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado; and through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana before he entered Canada and ended in Anchorage on Aug. 10. Donaldson has raised more than 120% of his $10,000 fundraising goal to aid in cancer research at MD Anderson.
"I've been amazed by the number of people who have gone out of their way to help us," says Donaldson. "Hosts have opened their homes, restaurant managers have given away food and countless others have shared their cancer stories with us and donated to the cause. Thank you."