‘It is once in a lifetime that one gets to do such a thing’
Abhishek Gupta, Pooja Singal and Gayatri Patel ride for 4k for Cancer
SHALINI KATHURIA NARANG
SHALINI KATHURIA NARANG
This January, when Pooja Singal, 22, a pre-med student at
John Hopkins, told her parents she wants to do a cross-country bike ride with the non-profit organization 4K for
Cancer, her parents laughed. And when Abhishek Gupta,
29, a PhD student of economics at John Hopkins, told his
parents in Delhi about his intention to ride, they wondered
why he needed to ride a bike for that. Why not just fly?
But July 31, Singal, Gupta, Gayatri Patel and 22 other riders reached the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to
complete a 4,000-mile trip that started in Baltimore May
“Two of my good friends did the 4K for Cancer bike ride
in 2008 and they told me it was the best summer of their
lives,” Singal said. “I was inspired and wanted to try it. It is
once in a lifetime that one gets to do such a thing.”
Each biker has to raise at least $4,500 for the cause.
“I started talking of my family and friends and then spoke
at my elementary school and high school to raise funds,”
About half of Gupta’s funding, he said, was given by his
professor, Robert Barbera. “My father gave $500 and I
requested him to place a box in his retail store in New Delhi
with the message about the ride. Around $200 was collected via that box,” Gupta said.
The bikers got their bikes in mid March and went
through some 25 to 30 miles of training rides on the weekends and some spinning classes in the gyms. “There’s really not much training. Nothing prepares you for the ride like
the ride itself,” Gupta said.
Besides the beauty of the landscape, Singal and Gupta
Abhishek praised the generosity of strangers and the small
town life in the United States.
“It changes something within you,” Gupta said. “It is a
very different experience going through small towns, meeting people who are so selfless and giving. I learnt that not
all people are out there to get you, and I can trust others.”
Congregations at churches on the way hosted the riders’
at dinner. At these community events, the riders took turns
to present their organization’s goals and talked to the people about their experiences.
While Singal and many other bikers found the ride from
Capitol Reef National Park to Escalante National Park in
Utah the hardest part of the trip, Gupta found the going
toughest when traversing the Rocky Mountains in the
National Trail Ridge Road in Colorado.
“Very steep headwinds, altitude, lack and oxygen and
gravel-filled road took its toll on me. I was pushing myself
against my limits,” Gupta said.
Twenty-eight riders started from Baltimore but three
dropped off on the way — two due to chronic pain and one
because of a family emergency. The bikers rode in groups of
three to four people. Sometimes they got lost, in some cases
riding up to 10 miles in the wrong direction. The 63-day
trip included 12 rest days. The riders rode between 80 and
100 miles per day.
“Though I have not been touched by the disease in any
personal way,” Singal said, “I chose to ride with 4K for
Cancer because I believe in the cause. Since 4K was [set
up] at John Hopkins, it was easier to get to know the oth-
ers I would be riding with.”
Gupta, who will join Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania
as an assistant professor of economics this fall, said, “This
experience will be one of the best; no, the best experience
of my life I think.”
Cricket tournament raises money for India’s poor
University of Massachusetts Lowell
defended a small total to beat the
Mavericks in the finals to win the 10th
annual India Development and Relief
Fund’s Cricket for a Cause tournament.
Fifty-four teams participated in the six-a-side tournament, helping the IDRF’s
Boston chapter raise more than $12,000.
IDRF Boston came up with the idea of
the cricket contest in 2001 to raise funds
for good causes. In a decade, it raised
more than $100,000 for projects that
empower the poor and the needy in India.
Twenty-seven teams participated in the
first IDRF cricket tournament in 2001,
raising $2,600. It became an annual flagship event.
‘I have been playing IDRF tournaments
since 2002,’ said Saqib, captain of the
Nashua Spearheads team. ‘Besides the
great charity it does, the IDRF has also
been instrumental in bringing all these
teams together and pretty much establish-
ing a tennis-ball-cricket network. I think
it’s fair to say that this is one tournament
we all want to win, considering everything
it stands for.’
A team of six pays $120 and plays 6-over
games in the round robin stage, proceed-
ing through to the knockout rounds. A
team from UMass Lowell has won the
hard-tennis-ball cricket tournament five
times and has never missed the tourna-
ment since its inception. On average, 60 to
70 teams have participated every year,
with a peak in 2003 of 82 teams. While
most of the participants are students from
area universities, working professionals
also enthusiastically participate in the
The tournament has been
raising money for a decade