Our Mission

The Illini 4000 is a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting the American cancer experience through The Portraits Project, raising funds for cancer research and patient support services, as well as spreading awareness for the fight against cancer through annual cross-country bike rides.

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Day 34: More South Dakota Wonders 06.23.17

Today I wanted to dedicate the ride to Pat McNamara. Today was the annual ‘Pat Mac Pack’ ride from the south side of Chicago to South Bend Indiana. Pat got a brain tumor when he was two years old and passed away when he was 13. I knew Pat from growing up as the energetic kid I would see on fourth of July, since our families were close. He always had a good sense of humor, and even when he was balding from his chemo treatments he dressed up as the old six flags man for Halloween to keep things light hearted.

Two words: HEAD WIND. For a total of 73 miles today we battled 22 mph headwind on our way from Watertown to Redfield. To put things in perspective for you, Watertown has a total population of 22,000, which makes it the 5th largest city in the whole state. The entire state itself has less than a million people total. As a few of us walked around Redfield after dinner we noticed that it seemed to be a town stuck in the past. Many of the signs were hand painted and the main street looked like it had remained static since the 50’s. Since time is not our priority while on the ride we were shocked when the gas station clerk informed us that coming up is fourth of July weekend. It is really crazy how fast yet slow this trip is moving.

Today we stayed on route 212 for 70 miles today and only passed four gas stations the whole way. Morale started pretty low this morning as we faced rain for the first twenty miles. Luckily for us the sun eventually came out for the last 15 miles. It felt so freeing to be able to shed our layers of coats and feel the wind on our skin at the end.  Once the sun eventually came it it really changed our whole mood. Although South Dakota is not technically the Midwest, it is nice to know that we only have a few days until we start hitting the real scenes like the badlands and Mount Rushmore, and from there, the rest of the west should also be beautiful.

Looking forward to tomorrow’s short 50 mile day.

Where them president heads at



Day 33: You Are Now Entering South Dakota 06.22.17

Mason had the ride dedication today. Here is his statement: “My mom is a chemo nurse and I have met a lot of her patients throughout her career. There were so many people that I Read more…

Day 32: Supersize Us 06.21.17

Christina Su dedicated the ride today because she found out that her grandmother has recently found cancer cells. At this point, any ride that is under 70 miles the team considers an easy ride, even Read more…

Day 31: Water in Minnesota 06.20.17

Alia stepped up to dedicate today’s ride to her friend Jasmine’s mom, who recently passed away from cancer. Jasmine attended Lake Forest High School with Alia. Dylan’s breakdance Mosher this morning surprised us: Colin “Lil Read more…

Day 30: If You Can Dream It, They Can Engineer It 06.19.17

Fourth rest day today. To kick off the morning we visited with cancer researchers Dr. Chris Stack and Stephen Heinsch on the University of Minnesota campus in St. Paul. Their shared discipline falls into the Read more…

Day 29: Centuries Getting Better 06.18.17

Julissa stepped up today to take the ride dedication for a portrait we did recently. Sargent Dewyane Schweinler died of lung cancer in 2002 and we interviewed his daughter who expressed her struggle in dealing Read more…