Group of college students biking across America to raise money stop in La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Most college students spend their summers off at internships or jobs.

20 students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are spending their summer working on a worthy cause.

"We think it's great. We're really pleased to have the Illini 4000 group come here today at Mayo Clinic Health System," said Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare Operations Manager Heather Kujak-Coon.

The Illini 4000 is a non-profit organization that raises money for cancer research and patient services by biking across the country.

"I initially wanted to do this because, you know, I've been lucky that not many people in my family have had cancer and gone through such hardship, but halfway thru the ride I actually found out that both my grandpas had brain cancer so it motivates me to keep doing it. But I also love biking and I wanted to explore the country so I thought what better way to do it," said Illini 400 Member Hitarth Patel.

The group started in Central Park in New York City and will finish in San Francisco.

But made a stop today at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse.

Along the way, the group raises funds as well as documents stories of people fighting cancer.

"Those extra funds are really important. Cancer care, to get to the next level it takes money and it takes those funds. So when groups like this can do that fundraising it really helps out the cancer community as a whole and systems like Mayo Clinic Health System," said Kujak-Coon.

They are on day 27 of the 77 day journey.

Members say stopping at hospitals along the way helps put everything in perspective.

"How the money we raise, how it impacts others. The stories you hear, the facilities they have and just how they're innovating in the fight against cancer. It's humbling to see everything that goes on in hospitals and how they're taken care of," said Patel.

So far in 2018, Illini 4000 has raised more than $85,000.

For more information on Illini 4000 and their journey, click here.

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