Friends and family joined together to support the riders who participated in the ten-year anniversary trek from Texas to Alaska. These University of Texas students ended their long journey by being recognized at the Tribute Gala on Saturday night. That began over a year ago when more than 200 applicants decided they wanted to embark on the ride of a lifetime. From that number 69 men and women were chosen to travel 4,000 miles on three different route options to Anchorage, Alaska. One participant, Brent Bulger, said that, for him, the training period was when he became completely committed to the program. The training begins the summer before and includes rides as well as other cardio. In part, due to the extensive training and fundraising (each rider must raise at least $4,500), Texas 4000 draws people who have a passion for change, according to Brent.
The speakers for the night emphasized the three pillars of the organization: hope, knowledge and charity. The new route was created specifically for the tenth anniversary and was planned to meet one third more people, explained Jen Garza, Executive Director. To date, there have been more than 50,000 ride dedications, and this will only continue to grow. Kirby Orosco, who will be riding next year, has already decided to dedicate her ride to her stepfather and great grandmother. She emphasized the mental preparation that is required, in addition to the months of physical training. She also stated that it is not just a race to raise money but serves a greater purpose, to spread the messages of the three pillars. Since there were more riders than ever this year, there were equally more dedications. Some ride for family or friends while others dedicate their trip to acquaintances met along the route.
Many of the riders also called on their families to support or donate to their cause. The gala showcased so many of the people involved in this event – riders, volunteers, sponsors, and supporters of the ride. Christina Ibarra, who will ride for her mother next year, commented on how her family embraced her commitment to Texas 4000. At first her family did not really realize what it was for, but soon discovered the purpose of the organization and encouraged her to join the team next year. She felt “blessed to have their support” especially as she begins her training in preparation for next summer. One family supporter, Paco Flores, even gave his brother, Alejandro, a send off this past June when Alejandro began his ride. Paco rode the first 70 miles with him and was at the gala, along with their sister, Robie. Altogether, countless Texas 4000 advocates came out to recognize the amazing feat of the past riders and prepare next year’s team for their race.