Shannon Cleary

Rider Profile
HometownClifton, IL
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
MajorMedia Studies
View Rider Blog (8)

Hello! My name is Shannon and I am from a small town in central Illinois called Clifton, which ironically, is the first place I learned about Illini 4,000. Riders often use my hometown as a destination point for their summer journeys and I remember watching them cycle in year after year. I am the youngest of four girls and I'm so grateful for the guidance of my older sisters. The transition from high school to college has really shown me how important and influential family can be. It's my mom's constant support that motivates me and through her, I've realized I can do anything. I just recently declared a major in Media Studies with a minor in Communication. I think it's really interesting to study contemporary issues with our media system in the United States. I'd like to think that someday I'll have a part in changing media to better fit the needs and interests of democracy, (this may be lofty) so...sometimes I wake up and want to be a teacher or realtor. Other days, I want to work for National Geographic and travel the world writing articles about different cultures and taking photographs of really incredible landscapes. Overall, I am curious about the world around me and constantly driven to test out new experiences and meet as many interesting people as I can. Life is a huge journey and I’m realizing that the destination doesn’t always matter, sometimes it’s the ride.

Personal Statement

I want to be a part of the Illini 4,000 experience for my Aunt Kathy Jo, who passed away from cancer just last year. She was the most influential and enthusiastic person I had the honor of knowing. Even in times of struggle she would smile, make jokes, and be grateful. Her energy was contagious and she lived life to its full potential. She took me on my first plane ride, first roller coaster, and even taught me how to dive. I would love nothing more than to ride in her name and for others across the world who have shared similar struggles. Illini 4,000 is just one of those things that I knew I had to do, and I think it’s all happening for a reason. Just three days after I was accepted into the organization my favorite high school teacher passed away from stage 4 cancer. Attending his funeral reinforced my decision to help fight for a cure. Cancer is all around us and I think it's time to start realizing its impacts, and the roles we can play. I believe we not only have to hope for a cure, but strive for preventative measures to keep the numbers from rising. At the same time we must do our part to support those affected and research, question, and critique current medical procedures to find answers. Cancer is a devastating and emotionally exhausting disease, but if I asked my aunt about it she would likely say it has the potential to create great things and I would have to agree thanks to Illini 4,000.