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Cycling for cancer

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Two 23-year olds from southern Denton County are pedaling their bicycles across the country this summer on different routes for the same cause: to raise awareness and money for cancer research.

Argyle native Sam Davenport and Flower Mound High School graduate Liz Peters both hit the road last month on a mission to save lives.

Davenport, 2006 graduate of Argyle High School, said his effort to bike to New York City and back is made on behalf of a non-profit organization he founded in February called Infinity and Beyond.

“It is a fitting name because the possibilities of this organization and of each and every one of us is endless. Everyone is capable of so much and the only thing stopping us is ourselves,” said Davenport.

During the same time Davenport pedals toward the East Coast, Liz Peters, a former Flower Mound resident, is headed for Alaska on her bike, also to raise money for cancer research but through a different non-profit.

Peters, who graduated from Flower Mound High School in 2006, is riding with a group called the Livestrong Texas 4000, consisting of 46 University of Texas at Austin students.  They left June 3rd from the UT-Austin campus, and Peters said each rider must raise a minimum of $4,500 for cancer research. 

Her desire to help others comes in part from living near New York City when 9/11 occurred.

“You could see the smoke from the towers from my house and the kid that sat next to me in Civics class lost his dad in the attack. This was my first real run-in with tragedy. Seeing people deal with grief made me feel sad and somewhat uncomfortable. I wanted to help them, but there really wasn’t much that I could do. I see Texas 4000 as a way that I can help people going through rough times, and I like feeling like I can contribute to this cause,” said Peters.

The seed for Davenport’s journey were planted after graduating one year ago from Texas A&M University at Galveston with a degree in marine biology, then sailing from Singapore to Bali before returning to the United States to work for about five months on the oil spill that occurred in April 2010 off the Gulf of Mexico. 

Last winter, back home in Argyle, he began to think about doing something for cancer awareness.  An adventurer at heart, Davenport wanted to do something to combine his love of the outdoors with his desire to raise money for cancer research, a dream that took root because both his grandfathers died of cancer, and his father, Jim Davenport of Argyle, has fought non-small cell lung cancer for over a year.  He came up with the idea for his nonprofit organization, and by May was ready for the trip of a lifetime.

Friends and family gathered in Argyle on Monday, May 23rd to see him off, and the very next day, his ride became difficult due to inclement weather in the area of his first stop in Oklahoma.

“It was a rough day – I had a close call with a car and there were some strong cross winds,” Davenport said.

He projects that the trip will take about five months and encompass 4,400 miles as he plans to ride through Chicago and New York City before heading back to Texas via North Carolina and Alabama, stopping at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where his father receives chemotherapy.

Davenport is stopping at small stores, gas stations and churches on the trek, accepting donations for the cause while at the same time providing some education about cancer.

“I am trying to raise money, but also awareness about the needs for cancer research. I want people to say, ‘What the heck is this guy doing?’ I just talk to anybody I can.” The non-profit has several different purposes, said Davenport, who said he also wants to provide continuing education and an ongoing emphasis to get other people involved.

On June 23rd, he plans to be in Chicago and make his first donation to a cancer patient that can’t afford treatment.

Even though he won’t be in Denton on July 9th, friends are helping out by hosting a 5K Fun Run at night where participants will be covered in glo-sticks and glo-paint. All proceeds go to Davenport’s non-profit, and it’s not too late to register. Visit www.runbiolume.com for more information.

If you are interested in following Davenport’s journey, there are plenty of options to do so as he has a Facebook page, twitter, You Tube, a blog and a website: www.infinity-beyond.org, to document the trip.

Peters, a Corpus Christi, TX native who has a degree in biology and is now attending UT’s college of pharmacy, said she does have some worries about reaching her goal, but she doesn’t let that stop her.

“I don’t dwell long on these fears, because I know of others who are braver than me against much more intimidating adversaries. I know cancer patients who face fears of being ill or of not making it, yet they keep on going; they keep on fighting. If they can be so brave, then why can’t I? And if they can keep on fighting during the darkest hour of their most difficult days, then why can’t I? Why can’t I ride my bike up a mountain? Why wouldn’t I be capable of riding my bike through the deserts? I am perfectly healthy and fully capable. I can fight alongside those who are fighting now, and fight for those who have fallen,” she said.

To read Peters’ profile or her blog, visit www.texas4000.org/user/profile/10365.  To make a donation, visit www.texas4000.org/give/donate.

There are no two ways about it, as these two young adults head off in two different directions, their dreams of helping people and promoting cancer research has already become a reality.

 

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