Schuyler Dale seems like the type of friend we’d all like to have and should all aspire to be.
For Dale, no task is too large to keep her friend’s spirit alive — even if it means biking from Austin to Alaska.
The University of Texas student, who attended Guyer High School, will be back in Denton on Wednesday as part of the Texas 4000 for Cancer, a bike ride of more than 4,000 miles from Austin to Anchorage over the course of 70 days to raise money for cancer research and awareness.
Dale, now 21, was a student at Guyer High when she made friends with Makenna Loerwald while playing volleyball. In February, Loerwald lost her battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare adolescent cancer typically found in the bone. Loerwald was 22.
“I told Kenna I would do whatever I could to continue helping fight the fight,” Dale said in a phone interview. “I want to keep my word.”
Every year, Texas 4000 selects UT students for an 18-month program. Dale, an anthropology major, said she has been signed up for three semesters volunteering at events and raising the $4,500 required from each student to participate. To raise funds, she even put on a fashion show, she said.
Dale left Austin on Saturday and will stop in her hometown of Denton with her team on Wednesday. While here, she and other team members will offer a free program at 7 p.m. in the commons area of Stark and Guinn halls at Texas Woman’s University, at Bell Avenue and University Drive.
Since receiving her first-ever road bike this past November, Dale has been training and going out on 100-mile rides. It’s been grueling work, but Dale said she’s kept the spirit of Loerwald with her constantly.
“While it’s mentally and physically exhausting, once I start thinking of the reason I am riding, it’s all worth it in the end,” Dale said. “I just have to constantly remember what we are riding for.”
This isn’t the only commitment Dale has made to her friend. She has also participated in Relay for Life events, and in 2010, she helped organize the Walk for Kenna at South Lakes Park. That event, she said, raised more than $5,000 to help Loerwald’s family with medical bills.
After the Denton program, the group will spend the night at TWU before continuing the journey by heading out to Pauls Valley, Okla.
“We are trying to get a good showing of supporters for Makenna, and I will be available for anyone to ask questions about the project,” Dale said.
Dale said 79 cyclists, riding three different routes, will be traveling to Alaska. Her group, traveling through the Rockies, consists of 28 cyclists. They plan to ride an average of 70 miles a day, and on days they hit the “century mark,” they will take off for a day of rest to get ready to hit the road again. They plan to arrive in Alaska on Aug. 8.
We wish them well. Dale and other Texas 4000 for Cancer participants are riding for a great cause.
They should be commended for caring enough to go that extra mile — in this case, more than 4,000 miles — to help others.
They are valued friends to us all.