LUMBERTON, NC (WECT) - When it comes to travel, summer is the season most Americans hit the highway. Lumberton's Maria Parker is no exception, but she did it on a bike.
Parker took part in the 2013 Race Across America, a bicycle race that starts in California and ends some 3,000 miles later in Maryland
"I think of myself as a strong person and it completely broke me down," said Parker.
This, from a person who holds several ultra-cycling world records in endurance. But it's what her sister Jenny is enduring that sparked an interest in the cross-country trek.
"She had been having some headaches, some sort of personality changes," Parker said.
An MRI showed a large tumor in her head. The diagnosis, a deadly form of brain cancer.
"The doctors told us she would have, with treatment, a year to 16 months to live," explained Parker.
In the wake of the news Maria looked to her bike, and found a way to not only help her deal, but also Jenny and others like her.
"I've been part of 5k's raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, I've been part of MS rides, I've been part of team in training so I know that athletic events are a great way to raise money and awareness," said Parker.
She also began a website, 3000milestoacure.com setting a goal of $1 million through donations and sponsorships supporting her ride. A ride that nearly ended when her support vehicle was involved in a crash, putting her 24 hours behind the pack.
"In Kansas I was amazing, the bike was amazing and Kansas is a big state and I was just catching up to the other riders and by the time we got out of Kansas I was the first woman so all I had to do was keep on going," explained Parker.
Which she did for 11 days, 20 hours and 54 minutes crossing the finish line before any other woman in the event.
"It was amazing, it was an incredibly joyful moment for me"
Also a moment to remember why she did it.
"I remember sitting in the doctors office with Jenny when she realized she probably wasn't going to get to see her kids get married, or see them have children and so many people in the prime of their lives, young people, it's the number two leading cause of death in children behind leukemia and lymphoma, are taken by this cancer and it would be so great knowing that you made a difference."
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