University of Oklahoma junior to run cross-country for young adults with cancer

NORMAN — Anna Sewell will spend 49 days this summer running from San Francisco to New York City to raise money and awareness for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults.

“Somewhere along the way I’ll probably ask myself, ‘Why did I do this?’ But it’ll be so worth it in the end,” said Sewell, 21, a junior at the University of Oklahoma majoring in nutritional sciences.

She is one of 26 members of Team New York who will run across America in one of three 4K for Cancer running events this summer. Three other teams will bike the more than 4,000 miles cross-country.

“Our mission is to raise awareness, unite communities and inspire hope toward the eradication of cancer,” Sewell said.

Team members will visit cancer patients at hospitals and cancer centers along their route, and will present scholarships to students who have been affected by cancer.

Sewell, of Edmond, said she is the only student from Oklahoma participating in this year’s 4K for Cancer.

She saw an ad on Facebook and thought, “That seems kind of cool.”

It appealed to her on a variety of levels.

Since ending her rowing career in 2016, she really missed being a part of an athletic team. As a graduate of Edmond Memorial High School, she had been involved in the annual Swine Week fundraising for charity. And, like many people, she has had loved ones diagnosed with cancer.

So she applied in October and was accepted.

Since then her father had surgery for a skin cancer, followed by radiation therapy. “Seeing what my dad went through gave me more motivation,” she said.

Sewell has been training, raising money — the minimum to participate is $4,500, but her goal is $5,000 — and getting acquainted with her teammates via social media. “A guy at the University of Texas and I have been ribbing each other,” she said.

They come from all across the U.S. and will meet mid-June in San Francisco for an orientation and send-off June 17. Sewell said she is counting down the days.

The run will be a relay. A few teammates will run 2 or 3 miles, then switch out with others traveling in the team bus. Each runner will log 12-16 miles a day, with the team logging 100-160 miles a day.

She is excited to see favorite places, like Colorado, and places she never has been, like Michigan.

“We end in New York, running across the Brooklyn Bridge. That’s going to be really cool,” Sewell said.

“It’s already been life-changing for me — the experience I’ve already had, the support I’ve gotten and the people I’ve met,” she said.

Sewell conducted a bone marrow donor drive and hosted a fundraising dinner at her parents’ home. She is more than three-quarters of the way toward her fundraising goal of $5,000.

“Being able to support young adults affected by cancer makes this journey more impactful than I could have imagined it to be,” Sewell said.

She will dedicate the run to her family members and her friends’ loved ones who have battled cancer.