Wayne State student bikes across North America to raise money for cancer cure

Wayne State student Michal Brichacek has embarked on a cycling journey from Anchorage, Ala. to Panama City, Panama to raise money for cancer and will provide weekly updates of his trek in The South End.

Michal Brichacek
For The South End

This summer, instead of taking classes or getting a job like other students typically do, I have decided to do something much different. I may just be a typical Wayne State student studying chemistry with dreams of a future medical career, but I think I have come up with a pretty big idea.

I am going to ride my bicycle from Anchorage, Ala. to Panama City, Panama in order to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Armed with only a bicycle and two backpack-sized waterproof bags that must hold everything I own, I will attempt to make it all the way to Panama in a mere four months solo — all the while documenting my journey for The South End.

However, there is no room for luxuries on this trip. These bags carry only the bare essentials and not much else. From a spare tire to instant macaroni, each item has been carefully considered.

The question boiling in everyone's mind is, of course, why? Although I have not been directly affected by cancer, I have seen the devastating effects it has had on the lives of others. I am an avid traveler and have always dreamed of such an expedition, and it seemed only logical to do it for a worthwhile cause.

I hope that what I am doing will not only help to raise funds for a positive cause, but likewise bring about awareness of an important issue.

Currently at the junctions of Highway 1 and Highway 37 in Canada's Yukon Territory, I am 14 days into this monumental voyage.

The scenery of the great wilderness of the north has been nothing short of breathtaking. Snowcapped mountains tower overhead while crystal clear and ice cold water runs in the streams and rivers below.

They call this "the land of the midnight sun." At this time of year, the region receives nearly 20 hours of sunlight.

Thus far, the trip has been anything but easy. I have encountered hills steep enough to make a grown man cry at the mere sight of them and winds fierce enough to blow a person off his feet.

I have ridden my bicycle through rain, hail and even snow. I have dodged potholes large enough to destroy a bicycle wheel. I have even encountered temperatures so cold that I have had to put on every article of clothing I own just to avoid getting hypothermia.

But no, I have not given up, for I have a greater cause in mind.

The pain I endure is nothing in comparison to that which a cancer patient must endure — both physically and mentally. It is this knowledge that keeps me going.

For each kilometer I cycle, I hope to raise $1 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The foundation, founded in 1997 by champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, inspires and empowers people affected by cancer.

It provides the practical tools and resources survivors need to live life on their own terms. The organization believes that in the battle with cancer, unity is strength, knowledge is power and attitude is everything.

Follow along with my journey through weekly updates and photos in The South End, or even consider making a donation to my cause at www.cyclingforacause.com.

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