CUMBERLAND — Alec Souders’ life has been affected by cancer more than the average kid should have to experience during their adolescent years.
Souders, 14, of Oakton, Va., lost his grandmother to lung cancer in 2001 and his aunt to colon cancer in 2011. He lost both grandfathers to mela-noma.
Souders is hosting his fourth bike ride to raise money for cancer research throughout the weekend and will conclude on Monday morning near Oakton.
The ride started on Friday near Pittsburgh on the Great Allegheny Passage. The riders stopped in Frostburg last night and will depart for Hancock Saturday morning where they will connect with the C&O Canal towpath in Cumberland around 11 a.m.
Riders will bike to Harper’s Ferry, W.Va., from Hancock on Sunday morning. On Monday, they will depart from Hancock and connect to the Washington and Old Dominion Trail around 1 p.m. in Leesburg, Va. From Leesburg, Souders and his fellow bikers will ride the last 26 miles on the canal into Vienna, Va.
Souders rides to remember his deceased family members and all of those who have been affected by the disease. Over the past three rides, he and his fellow bikers have helped raise more than $20,000 for the Melanoma Research Foundation charity.
This year, Souders easily surpassed his goal of raising at least $5,000. At the start of the ride, he had raised nearly $6,000 for the charity.
He said the “satisfaction of helping others” is really what he gets most out of hosting his annual bike ride. While not having a set number in mind, he tries to get as many participants as possible each year to support the cause.
On losing four family members to cancer, Souders said, “It really showed me how lives can be taken and I don’t want that to happen to other people. That’s why I do my rides.”