Courtesy of Guadalupe Fernandez PHOTO FINISH Guadalupe Fernandez poses in front of the John Carrol statue after completing her trek
Courtesy of Guadalupe Fernandez
PHOTO FINISH Guadalupe Fernandez poses in front of the John Carrol statue after completing her trek

Few people know how to respond when tragedy strikes. Many mourn, cry and try to move on. Most people, however, don’t respond by organizing a cross-country bike trip.

But three Georgetown students did just that this summer to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in honor of their friend David Henry, a student at The College of William and Mary, whose mother succumbed to B-cell lymphoma in 2011.

The society helps families like David’s afford treatment and care for leukemia and lymphoma patients by covering things like co-pays for medications, medical bills and insurance.

This past summer, David and his brother Jonathan, along with two Georgetown friends, Carlos Saldago (MSB ’14) and Guadalupe Fernandez (SFS ’14), rode from San Francisco through Chicago to Yorktown, Va., camping most nights. The journey included stops at both Georgetown and William and Mary.
David named the trip Momma Henry’s Trek Across America and began planning the trip in 2011 while his mother was in remission. It didn’t take long for Saldago and Fernandez to jump on board with the idea. Coming from a working-middle class family in Chicago, the Henrys found the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society a great help through their mother’s battle with cancer as medical costs grew.

The actual funding for the trip didn’t come from donations; the group decided to fund the excursion completely on their own.

“We wanted to do it honestly, with all the money going to the organization. … [Using our own money] committed us more to the trip,” Fernandez said.

They wanted the money that was raised in honor of their journey to go right to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

The ride wasn’t an easy one, with the bikers often spending up to eight hours a day on the road. With little to no cycling experience, they struggled to get through the tough mountain terrain of the West.

“We had to climb at least one mountain a day. … We thought most of the country was flat — it isn’t,” Fernandez said. “It was hard. We were doing it on our own.”

They found the experience mentally tough as well, with little to occupy them other than their iPods and the scenery during those long rides. However, they did receive a fair amount of help along the way. Although they camped most days, they also used the website      warmshowers.org, which connects travelers with people willing to open their homes so the travelers can clean themselves. “People were nice,” Fernandez said. “Some of them even cooked for us.”

The group’s efforts, though long and arduous, are paying off. Though having exceeded their initial $10,000 goal, they hope to do more to help the society. They raised money through fundraisers in their hometown of Chicago and via word of mouth. The group operated a Facebook page with frequent updates to help spread the word and motivate others to donate to the cause.

The team is still accepting donations, which can be made through their website, mommahenrystrek.org.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*