Why I Decided to Ride

Like many Hopis, I have lost family members and friends to cancer. The loss of these loved ones has motivated me in both my personal and professional life. As an Associate Professor of Development Sociology and American Indian Studies at Cornell University, my research focuses on community-based interventions to increase awareness about, and use of, preventive cancer screening. 

To celebrate my upcoming birthday I wanted to do something memorable to mark the event. After much consideration, I decided to mark this milestone by riding my bike down the Pacific Coast. On September 25, 2012, I departed Bellingham, WA to pedal my bike 1,539 miles to Ventura, CA.  As I prepared for the ride, I realized how fortunate I was to be healthy enough to undertake such an adventure. As a cancer prevention researcher, I know how chronic diseases -- diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer -- have compromised the quality of life for many Native people. Motivated by the Hopi values of nami'nangwa (volunteerism) and sumi'nangwa (reciprocity), I decided to use my ride to raise money for the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund (HCAF). 

The HCAF was established in 2005 to assist tribal members having to travel off the reservation for cancer treatment. Since then, the fund has helped over 60 individuals and their families with the cost of travel for cancer treatment. Without a local cancer treatment center, tribal members must travel more than 500 round-trip miles to Phoenix or 750 round-trip miles to Tucson for treatment. The weekly travel cost for 2-3 months of treatment can be costly.

My goal was to raise $10,000. By the end of the ride, I exceeded this goal and raised over $12,000 for this very deserving cause. All donations were tax-deductible and 100% of the proceeds raised directly benefitted Hopi cancer patients and their families.  

Askwali! (Thank you)

Angela Gonzales

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