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Students bike more than 4,000 miles for American Cancer Society

BIG RAPIDS - Ferris State University students Anna Branner and Audrey Schilling are participating in the first annual G.S.T. Ride Coast 2 Coast for Pedal for Life, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and recreation opportunities to build community and health.

G.S.T. Ride was founded in honor of Grace Raines, Susan Burger and Theresa Schilling (G.S.T.), all victims of cancer. Burger, who died of ovarian cancer, was the aunt to Branner, and Schilling, who died of breast cancer, was the mother of Audrey Schilling. Raines was the grandmother of Angela Knoertzer, another member of G.S.T.

Branner and Schilling will take the TransAmerican trail 4,250 miles across America to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The girls chose to ride for ACS because they fund research, patients' quality of life and prevention, and they have all experienced the effects of cancer.

In hopes of raising $20,000 for the ACS, they will be collecting donations while promoting cancer awareness through interaction with the public during their trip. They will be encouraging healthy and active living habits, and preventative measures to help prevent cancer.

Schilling, a senior in Resort Management with a minor in Recreation Leadership and Management, hopes to make a positive impact during their trip. "I'm looking forward to meeting people along the way and motivating people and society to become healthier," she said. "We are promoting bicycle advocacy, buying environmentally friendly products and recreation life. Overall, we are encouraging a healthy life style."

After a year of planning, their ride began on May 9 in Yorktown, Va. The trip will take them through Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and finally to their end point in Florence, Ore., on Aug. 30.

"We have really been working on building up endurance for the trip," Schilling said. "If anything, we have become a lot healthier ourselves."

The girls will carry all of their equipment on their bikes and camp out while they are on the road. Some of the equipment they will be carrying is a bike computer, spare tires and tubes, compasses, route maps, a tent, sleeping bags, a stove, cooking set, extra clothing, first aid kit, camera, cell phone and a journal.

If you would like to make a donation, join them on their trip or join the Pedal 4 Life organization, visit the team's home page at or e-mail