BAY CITY (WJRT) - (07/24/17) - It's called the 4K for Cancer - two Michigan college students are part of the 4,000 mile journey from San Francisco to New York City.
Over the weekend, the group, made up of 28 runners, made it to Michigan.
Sunday night, they were in Roscommon, Monday they stopped in Bay City, and Tuesday they will head to Ann Arbor.
A couple weeks into the 49 day journey, Abby Rentschler, of Saline, learned her aunt has thyroid cancer.
"It just makes you realize why what you're doing is so important," Rentschler said.
Rentschler's team is on a mission to raise money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.
"Provides a ton of support services, both when they're in treatment and when they get out of treatment," said Emily Diehl, of Saline.
Patients supported by Ulman are the same age as the runners.
"It really could be anyone and so that's definitely why we run," Diehl said.
Each day, the runners have a different name written on their legs.
"We have one person we all dedicate our day to and we'll read a story about them in the morning when we have our dedication circle," Diehl said. "And we really draw on their strength as we run."
Along the way, people stop them as they're running, others strike up conversations at gas stations. It's how the 4K for Cancer runners raise awareness.
They've also spent time meeting with cancer patients at hospitals. Each night, there is a new place to rest their heads, like the First Presbyterian Church in Bay City.
"All the places we stay are donated to us, so right now, we're staying at a church, we've stayed in YMCA's, high schools. Usually we're on the floor. Once in a while we luck out and we get couches," Diehl said.
Their food has been donated, too.
When it's not their turn to run in the relay-style journey, they ride in a van.
Runners estimate when it's all done, they will have tallied around 400 miles each.
They are sore and tired, but realize it's nothing compared to what the people they are running for have endured - like Rentschler's grandfather who battled melanoma.
"So that kind of courage and bravery and selflessness is what I wanted to channel being on this trip," she said.
You can follow their journey on Facebook by clicking on the link in the 'Related Links' section of this story.
They will arrive in New York City on Aug. 5.