Biking across America: One student’s adventure to fight Alzheimer’s


Photo by Adam Wolffbrandt

By Brian Shlonsky

The beginning of the summer will find one UK student with the back tire of his bicycle touching the Pacific Ocean, ready to embark on a cross-country bicycle ride to help raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s disease.

On May 25, UK biology sophomore Cameron Hamilton, along with five Western Kentucky University students, will begin a 3,197.8 mile cross-country bike ride starting in Oceanside, Calif., and ending in Yorktown, Va., in an attempt to raise $75,000 for their organization Fijis Across America, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana.

According to the Fijis Across America Web site, WKU student Tyler Jury founded the organization because he wanted to cycle cross-country and aid in the fight against the disease that killed his grandfather after a four-year battle.

“Tyler was my best buddy throughout high school, and last July when his grandfather died, he had just gotten into cycling,” Hamilton said. “He told me he was going to do something to raise money and awareness about Alzheimer’s, so I committed to do the ride with him.”

So far, Fijis Across America has raised $11,327, much of it through donations on the organization’s Web site.

“People can do a sponsorship on a per-mile basis,” Hamilton said. “For example, if a person were to donate a penny per mile, we would be able to collect $32.”

The ride is expected to last 54 days and end on July 18, and it will be difficult at times, Hamilton said.

“It’s surprising how after four to six hours how much of your body starts to hurt,” Hamilton said. “Not just my legs, but my shoulders will start getting sore from leaning over the handlebars for so long.”

Hamilton has been training for the ride since last August. He knew he was up for the challenge after successfully riding the 50 miles from Bardstown to Harrodsburg with all his possessions in a converted kitty litter bucket.

Hamilton said the cyclists would be stopping along the way to make appearances at different places and take part in memory walks, which are large events that bring awareness to Alzheimer’s.

“We have different people hosting us and having us stay, so the more events we attend and appearances we have the longer we’ll be on the tour,” Hamilton said.

Fijis Across America will compete in the Pepsi Refresh Project beginning Thursday, with a chance to win a $25,000 grant that would aid in replacing worn equipment and supplies for the ride, Hamilton said.

The Pepsi Refresh Project aims to encourage people, businesses and non-profits to make positive impacts in their communities, and anyone can enter and vote for their favorite ideas, according to its Web site.

To vote for Fijis Across America, students can register and vote at

People can also track the cyclists’ route, learn more about Alzheimer’s and give donations on the organization’s Web site, (