From Cap and Gown to Bike and Helmet

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One week after commencement, graduating senior Erin Mack (pictured above) will embark on a 70-day, 4,000 mile bike ride across the country to support the fight against cancer. 

Villanova, Pa. – Villanova University senior Erin Mack is used to helping people. As an EMT with Radnor Fire Company as well as TriBoro Volunteer Ambulance Corps in her hometown of Park Ridge, N.J., and a lieutenant in Villanova EMS, helping those in need is part of who she is. 

Mack’s penchant for assisting others was especially evident in June of 2009 when she came upon an overturned vehicle and six injured people on the New Jersey Turnpike during a trip home from Villanova. She remained on the scene until Emergency and Fire Rescue Services arrived and then continued to work alongside them. Mack was later honored for her “outstanding bravery under conditions of personal risk to one’s own life and safety” by the 200 Club of Bergen County – a non-profit organization which supports police, fire and emergency medical personnel.

Yet, it wasn't until the summer of 2011 that some of the realities of what Mack sees every day on the job hit close to home. Within a week’s time, two people very close to her heart – Mack’s childhood best friend, along with her uncle, a Villanova alumnus – received unexpected cancer diagnoses.  

Fortunately, both are now on their way to recovery, but nothing has made Mack more aware of the physical, mental and emotional struggles which a battle against cancer demands, and how critical support networks are to their success.  

These personal experiences have impacted Mack and led her to join the fight against cancer.

One week after Villanova’s commencement, Mack will embark on a 70-day, 4,000 mile charity bike ride from Baltimore to San Francisco. The event, called the 4K for Cancer, has raised over a million dollars to date to support cancer patients and their families through organizations like its parent organization, Ulman Cancer Fund. Mack is one of 30 college students from around the country taking part in this journey.

Along the way, Mack and her fellow cyclists will participate in various cancer outreach programs in each of the cities they stop in – from visiting cancer hospitals and cooking dinner for cancer patients and their families at the Hope Lodge, to working with local organizations to support the cancer community through projects and fundraising. The main focus of the 4K for Cancer and the Ulman Cancer Fund is guiding and supporting young adults (age 18-40) who are faced with cancer diagnoses.  

“I am taking on this challenge as a show of my solidarity and support, not only for my Uncle Jack and Tara, but for everyone who has faced or watched a love one face cancer,” said Mack. “If my time at Villanova has taught me one thing, it's the value of using my time and talents to make a difference.  I'm doing something big because I have the gift of being able-bodied and I am just crazy enough to think a 4,000 mile bike ride sounds fun. Hopefully this can inspire others to use their gifts to do something big, too.”

Mack will graduate cum laude with a B.A. in Political Science, with concentrations in International Relations and Honors. She is currently in the five-year political science master’s program, with plans to attend medical school afterwards and pursue a career in international health.

You can learn more about Mack on her support page: www.4kforcancer.org/profiles/erin-mack

About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's five colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them.