Summer Internship Makes a Run at Stopping Cancer
Lauren Bates will run across the country, raising money for cancer and supporting cancer patients along the way.
After completing a summer internship, Lauren Bates, a two-sport student-athlete (cross country and track and field), will officially earn a degree in exercise science from SUNY Brockport.
As for that internship? Well, she’ll be going from running cross country to literally running across the country.
Bates will serve as a trainer for a group of 30 runners that will run from San Francisco to Boston this summer to support cancer research. The program, 4K for Cancer, is organized by the Ulman Cancer Fund and will kick off Sunday as Bates and her team cross the Golden Gate Bridge.
This fall, Bates — who participated in Brockport’s May Commencement ceremony — will pursue a master’s degree in exercise physiology at the University of North Carolina. Her research will focus on exercise oncology. It’s a goal she’s had ever since a high school friend, Courtney Wagner, passed away from brain cancer at the age of 18.
“She really shaped the young adult that I want to be and definitely the career path that I wanted,” Bates said. “I’m going into the field of cancer research because I saw the benefits of what exercise did for her.
“Courtney was originally given eight months to live but ended up living way longer. She was really involved in athletics.”
When it came time to select her internship, Bates was determined to find something that combined the two fields. 4K for Cancer was exactly what she was looking for. Each runner is required to raise $4,500 to benefit the Ulman Cancer Fund. But their support for those stricken with cancer extends far beyond a monetary donation.
Bates and her teammates will be conducting community service along the way. The service will vary based on the needs of their host city. They’ll prepare meals for cancer patients, deliver care packages, help construct homes near hospitals that will provide temporary housing to families affected by cancer, and much more.
Bates will even have the opportunity to surprise someone who has been impacted by cancer with a $10,000 college scholarship.
In between, there will be a whole lot of running. The team will cover roughly 200 miles a day and they’ll do it relay style. They’ll run in pairs, with each pair covering 10-16 miles, while the rest of the team follows in a van.
As the group’s trainer, Bates was responsible for ensuring that each team member properly trained for the experience. She’ll also lead stretching exercises and will treat any injuries that her teammates suffer along their journey.
Bates flight leaves for San Francisco today, and the enormity of the task in front of her is starting to become real.
“It’s going to be so weird to get on the plane and say, ‘Wow…my legs are going to take me back,’” she said.
But the difference she’ll be able to make on her journey, Bates says, will make it all worth it.
“I love that every day I’ll have a chance to interact with people who are battling cancer. I’ll get to tell them that I’m there for them and I believe in them,” she said. “I think it’s so powerful that this many people are going to spend their summer going from place to place because they feel cancer sucks and want to do something about it.”
You can track Lauren's journey by following her on Instagram at @laurunstheworld and checking The Port for more updates throughout the summer.