Selfless and Soaring: Student cycles for a cause

Some students, alongside attending classes and working jobs, also contribute to causes bigger than themselves. Through this series, Selfless and Soaring, The Shield will feature Screaming Eagles who promote change through charity.

Junior undecided major Raegan Ball will ride his bike across the country this summer, stopping at hospitals and handing out scholarships for young adults with cancer.

Raegan Ball likes to live life in other people’s shoes.

“Any time I talk to someone, I try to take life from their perspective,” the junior undecided major said. “I like to think about their friends, their families and how things affect them.”

This summer, Ball will be doing just that, as he bikes across the country and delivers scholarships to young adults with cancer.

He’s participating in the 70-day, 4,400-mile trip through the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. As he journeys from Baltimore to San Francisco, Ball and other college students will stop at hospitals along the way.

“Cycling has always been a passion of mine, and I’ve personally had quite a few people in my life affected by cancer,” Ball said. “This is a great fund to help people my age with cancer get back into school.”

Ball said his uncle Dave suffered from cancer, and dealing with his death influenced his desire to fundraise for others.

“(His death) was the first big death in my life,” he said. “That really impacted me and made me want to try and help people.”

While cancer has taken some of his family members, Ball said the recoveries have outweighed the losses.

“I always try to be the optimist,” he said. “While cancer is an awful disease, there’s a high chance you’ll get through. There’s a higher rate of success than it used to be.”

Ball said although he’s known people with cancer, this trip will be the first time he’s talking to people his own age with the disease.

“It’ll be emotional to see people my age and how they have to deal with pain,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being able to see them smile and recover. They get stronger day-by-day.”

Alumnus Jason Miner said Ball has “always been a philanthropic kind of person.”

“I hope he has fun and learns a lot about himself,” Miner said. “I hope it inspires other people to do something they wouldn’t normally do and take risks.”

In order to participate in the trip, Ball must raise $4,500, which Miner said wouldn’t be difficult.

“He’s a kid that’s got a big heart,” Miner said, “and he’s good at raising money.”

As Ball’s fraternity ‘big,’ Miner and Ball have spent a lot of time together, often cycling.

“He’s always there for you, and we push each other to do better,” he said. “Biking across the country will be life-changing for him.

Miner said he can’t wait to see how Ball’s trip unfolds.

“We’ve been talking about the cool parts of the country he’s going to get to ride through and this opportunity to ride across the country,” Miner said, “but it’s less about riding and more about the journey.”