This summer, while some Sewanee students toil away on research projects or earn valuable experience from hard-earned internships, Erin Dockery (C’20) will be running across America armed with a single duffle bag, two pairs of shoes, and socks. Lots of socks.
Paired with approximately 30 other college-aged youths, collectively deemed Team Boston for the route’s end-point, Dockery will embark on a relay that involves running between six to 16 miles a day, six days a week, for 49 days.
On June 17, 2018, the team will set out from San Francisco, California and make the 4,000-mile trek to Boston, Massachusetts, finishing on August 4. Trip highlights include the Golden Gate Bridge, the Loneliest Highway (also known as Route 50), Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Lake Placid.
Over the past 17 years, the organization “4K for Cancer” has sponsored many journeys like Dockery’s to raise money and awareness for patients and families affected by the many variations of the incurable disease. According to Dockery, “there are very few who have not been touched by cancer,” and humanity manifests its greatest strength when united under the same cause.
Dockery’s inspiration to apply for the program comes from her father and the similar path he took after he received open-heart surgery. “In 2008, my family took the entire summer [to follow him]; he rode his bike and we would follow him in a motorhome, so I’ve been to most of the national parks and 48 states. When I saw [the application], it reminded me of my dad and our journey as a family.”
When asked about what she will be thinking about during her travels, Dockery humorously responded with one word: “Food.” Laughing, she specified further: “Really, I’m doing this race in honor of my grandmother who died of cancer in 2013, and I want to do everything in my power to prevent other people from having to experience a loss of family or friend due to cancer. So yeah, I’m going to be running for her.”
“Every day before we run, we run for a person that day, so we write it on our legs. Every morning we dedicate that day’s run to a new person. I’m going to be dedicating my days to different people each time I run. Maybe multiple of those days will be for my grandmother.”
Her adventure begins long before the start date. Currently, Dockery must raise 4,500 dollars to be donated to various programs supported by the organization’s mission. These include the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults, Cancer to 5K, Patient Navigation, Scholarships, and UCF House. These programs focus on changing lives by constructing a community of emotional support, financial assistance, and housing aid for those battling the adverse effects of cancer.
To raise the necessary funds, Dockery has appealed to the community. She has a fundraising page linked to her Facebook account that donors may contribute any amount to, along with the stickers and hearts she sells in McClurg dining hall for one dollar each. The stickers display “Team Boston.” On the felt hearts, Dockery explains, “you write the name of someone who is affected by cancer, and I will hang them up.”
Additionally, on March 9 from 12-5 p.m. in Spencer Hall, Dockery will host a bone marrow drive where people can sign up to become donors and donate to her cause.
A total of 4,500 dollars seems daunting, but Dockery has managed to put the figure into a manageable perspective. “Basically, I need 100 people to donate 45 dollars, so if you donate 45 dollars, you are in Club Cardinal.”
Her eyes lit up as she continued, “My grandma loved cardinals, it was like her favorite thing. She always wore sweaters with cardinals on it, and so cardinals are important to our family. It’s so special to see one!”
Dockery also commented on the value of the Sewanee community’s contribution to her cause. “Sewanee has really pushed me to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature and has really helped me to continue running, and so it means a lot to me that my community is behind me and people support me here,” she said.
Her efforts extend far beyond the Sewanee Bubble as well. “We stay at YMCAs and churches and everything is donation based. All the food that we eat is donation based, everything. And families can apply to have the team stay at their house,” Dockery explained.
Altogether, Dockery expressed her desire to help the cause in the best way she knows how. “I don’t want to take advantage of my health because not everyone gets a healthy body, and so by me running I can represent people who don’t have a healthy body and can’t get outside.”