Running a relay across the country may be the toughest physical challenge Katelyn Fischer has ever faced, but the former college basketball standout said its nothing compared to the hardships cancer patients endure.
When you start thinking about all the people you know who have been affected by cancer, it becomes a pretty long list, said Fischer, a 2014 Marymount University graduate. Theyre the ones we think of when it gets hard.
The 4K for Cancer Run supports the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. The two-time Capital Athletic Conference player of the year began the 4,000-plus-mile trek near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on June 14. Two dozen runners will finish Aug. 1 in New York City.
Fischers run is dedicated to Jamie Roberts, an assistant basketball coach at Catholic University who was hit by a truck and killed outside Lexington, Kentucky, last year during one of 4K For Cancers bicycle rides across the country. Fischer played basketball against Roberts, who attended St. Marys College of Maryland. Cancer also has affected many of her relatives and friends. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor. An uncle passed away from throat cancer and two of her aunts have battled the disease, as have several friends, including MU teammate Jillian Tobin.
Tobin said Fischer is one of the most driven and hardworking people she has ever met.
Having her as a teammate was great because she was constantly challenging me to get better on and off the court, said Tobin, a 2015 graduate who would like to do the run in the future.
I still have a rare aggressive form of thyroid cancer, she said, but it hasnt grown recently, so my doctors are just watching it closely.
Ashlee Rogers, their college coach, said that while at Marymount Fischer organized a fundraiser to provide care packages the homeless and a walkathon for St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital.
The impact she had on our program goes further than what she accomplished on the court, Rogers said. As a player she did it all for our team. Katelyn is not only one of the best players to come through our program, but more importantly, she is one of the best people to wear a Saints jersey.
During her senior year, Fischer won the 2014 Jostens Trophy, awarded to outstanding student-athletes in NCAA Division III basketball for excellence in the classroom, on the court and in the community. Not only was she named to numerous All-America teams, she was also an academic All-American with a 3.97 grade point average in business administration.
Though Fischer said shes never been much of a runner, shes putting in 10 to 15 miles a day, with a rest day thrown in every three to five days. Her daily mileage is typically broken into two runs with a partner. At night, the group sleeps on the floors of churches, high school gyms or YMCAs. Their days start at 5 a.m. The group covers between 100 and 180 miles a day. When not running, Fischer is in one of two 12-passenger vans, napping, eating or cheering others on.
Weve seen so many beautiful places, she said during a phone call from Michigan, noting that her favorite spot was the waterfalls in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. But the best part of the trip is meeting people who are about something bigger than themselves. Everyone has such a drive to give back.
Before this the most I had ever run was 12 miles in a row, Fischer said. Now I feel that Im in the best shape of my life and want to do a marathon.
She may get the chance on the last day of the trip. The team is talking about running the final 26.2 miles into New York City as a group.
Runners had to raise a minimum of $4,500 to participate. To donate, go to http://4kforcancer.org/profiles/katelyn-fischer/.
Katelyn Fischer, a 2014 Marymount University graduate, is participating in the 4K For Cancer Run, a relay from San Francisco to New York that supports the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
Runners starting their trek near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
Katelyn Fischer looking out over Hells Half Acre in Wyoming.