From a young age, she has been active through yoga, pilates, and running. This year, she is participating in the Ulman Foundation’s 4K for Cancer, a cross-country bike ride and run. She is a member of Team Baltimore, which means she will be running from San Francisco to Baltimore from June to August 2019.
Didra found about the Ulman Foundation from Morgan Somerville, director of student engagement at Stevenson University, who put her in contact with Stevenson alumna Jen Antonelli. Antonelli currently works at the Ulman Foundation, and she also completed the 4K for Cancer in 2017.
“I was so moved and inspired by her experience that I immediately applied that week,” said Didra.
She will fly to San Francisco in June, where the runners will start their trip by running across the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the Ulman website, “Each team will be provided with a binder that includes all of the routes for the trip and cue sheets.” From there, the runners will zig-zag across America, volunteering at cancer centers and hospitals in the process. These dedicated athletes will present scholarships to young adults with cancer, as well as offer a community of support to them and their families. After the entirety of the race, the runners and riders will have covered over 4,500 miles.
“I want to serve a purpose bigger than myself,” said Didra. “At Ulman, we often talk about our ‘why,’ which means why we are personally fighting cancer. During 4K for Cancer, we will write the names of the people that inspire our ‘why’ on our arms and legs, and we will dedicate our runs to them. My ‘why’ is my grandfather, who passed away before I was born, and Dalton Ford, a childhood friend of my brother who passed away from cancer in high school.”
To participate in the run, athletes must raise at least $4,500 in donations for the Ulman Foundation. Currently, Didra has raised a little over $2,500 through fundraisers, raffles and auctions, and selling baked goods.
“For me, running is a way to connect with a community that is focused on health and to escape the stress of life,” said Didra. “When I am running, nothing else matters except putting one foot in front of the other, and I think that is an important metaphor to carry into everyday life. When you feel like stopping, remember that you are stronger than you give yourself credit for and there is nothing that you can’t handle.”