Connor Yanz

Rider Profile
HometownChicago, IL
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
MajorTechnical Systems Management
View Rider Blog (6)

Hello and thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to read my rider bio! My name is Connor Yanz and I am a freshman at the University of Illinois. I am majoring in Technical Systems Management, and for those of you (all of you) who don't know what that entails, it's a major that focuses on the business/economics side of engineering. My concentration is in Renewable Energy Systems and after I graduate I hope to work with green energy...or be in the F.B.I., C.I.A., Navy Seals, or be a tiger trainer in Asia, a big time trader on Wall Street, or an international spy...but in any case, graduation is a long ways off, so I've got plenty of time to think about all that. My home is on the south side of Chicago where I grew up with my parents, two sisters, three brothers, and an endless collection of dogs. I am the youngest in my family (not including the dogs) and to this day my five older siblings are still the five coolest people I've ever met. On top of that my parents are the two most selfless people in the world and I truly couldn't have asked for a better family. After coming down to Champaign last summer and hearing about the Illini 4000 on Quad Day, I knew that this was how I wanted to spend my summer. I have always been interested in service and travel, so when I heard about a group of kids riding bikes across the country to raise money for cancer, I knew that I couldn't possibly graduate from Illinois without being part of such an experience. And why not after freshman year? I played football and rugby in high school but wanted to take my physical fitness to the next level in college, and the Illini 4000 is doing just that. After my first training day on the bikes my legs felt like jello, but I just keep reminding myself who I'm doing this for and my pain is minuscule compared to what they're going through. Despite my sore legs, the I4K has been absolutely awesome so far. I've been inspired by the dedication of everyone involved in putting this together, and hope I can convey that same positivity with the people I meet on the trip. I’m counting the days until we take off from New York City, and can’t wait for the adventures on the road to begin!

Personal Statement

Cancer has been a part of my life ever since I was young. I lost a very close friend to cancer when I was 11, and have seen many family members and friends be diagnosed with different forms. Some were able to beat the deadly illness though often others were not. Although cancer is a very omnipresent disease with much money and awareness going to finding a cure, I don't think enough attention is spent on the individuals themselves who are fighting it every day. The reason that I4K really appealed to me is the one on one attention we give to these patients and their families. The Portraits Project is a perfect example: we aren't simply riding across the country because we told our sponsors we would, but we are doing so to make contact with cancer patients all over America and document their stories. The idea of meeting these people firsthand and hearing about their struggles, and then sharing them with the world is truly inspiring, and it shows that we care about them more than just the amount of money we raise.