Mr. Speaker, during the summer months of 2016, TEXAS 4000, a University of Texas non-profit organization, will host their annual summer bike ride: the longest charity bicycle ride in the world (as they say, everything’s bigger in Texas). The ride starts in Austin, TX and stretches 4,000 miles across the country to Anchorage, Alaska. Participating in this ride are 75, carefully selected, University of Texas college students. These 75 UT students will commit 70 days of their summer to complete the 4,000-mile ride, utilizing each day to raise awareness about cancer prevention, detection, and research in the communities they visit along the way. One of the 75 UT students, Jeffery Saeling, happens to be a constituent of mine.

Jeffery attended Kingwood High School in Texas from 2008 to 2012. During his senior year, in 2012, he was nominated as the Kingwood High School student of character for exhibiting responsibility, respect, trustworthiness, fairness, caring and citizenship; consequently, I, along with Dr. Guy Sconzo, the superintendent of Humble ISD, and Texas State Representative, Dan Huberty had the pleasure of meeting Jeffery, where we experienced firsthand the quality of his character. Four years later, in 2016, Jeffery’s continued display of character is one of the reasons he was selected to participate in the TEXAS 4000’s summer ride. However, selection for the ride is only the beginning.

Once selected to participate, each rider is expected to raise $4,500 and volunteer at least 50 hours in their community. On top of this, riders must commit to dedicate time and effort in the planning, preparation, and execution of the summer ride. These lofty expectations coupled with the physicality of the ride work in tandem to cultivate volunteers and philanthropists dedicated to eradicating cancer. However, this wouldn’t be possible without TEXAS 4000, the non-profit organization responsible for the 4000-mile ride.

Their mission: to share ‘‘hope, knowledge, and charity through leadership development, grant making, and their 4,000 plus mile bike ride from Austin to Anchorage: They share hope by letting those affected by cancer know that they are riding for them and fighting for a world without cancer; they share knowledge by bringing life-saving information about cancer prevention to communities and providing leadership development training to tomorrow’s leaders; and they share charity by contributing to cancer research and cancer support services while developing the next generation of volunteers and philanthropists.’’

 To date, TEXAS 4000 has raised over $5 million for distribution to various organizations such as M.D. Anderson and the American Cancer Society. Their impact and influence is not contained by the boundaries of the community they operate within, it spans nationwide.

Organizations, like TEXAS 4000, and people, like Jeffery Saeling, represent some of the best my district and Texas has to offer. Their selflessness, dedication, and volunteerism stand as a shining example of the type of quality Americans who call Texas home. Their mission is honorable and their hearts huge.

And that’s just the way it is.