AUSTIN -- More than 2,200 cyclists begin a ride through Austin early Sunday morning. Some set out to ride 20 miles, others as far as 100 miles. They all had one goal in mind: to raise money for the LIVESTRONG Foundation.
"Cancer's a very strong word and serious disease and it changes your life," said cancer survivor Anibal Diognes. "I think what these people are doing is great."
The LIVESTRONG Foundation provides free support services to cancer patients, their loved ones and health care professionals.
"We help people cope with the practical challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis such as insurance concerns or fertility preservation," said LIVESTRONG Foundation Spokesperson Rae Bazzarre.
"Some people have financial struggles some of them have different issues with what type of treatment they want to go through," said Monica Arellano.
As a research nurse for Texas Oncology, Arellano sees these struggles often.
"I ride in memory of all of our patients -- in memory of a good friend of mine, Angelica Torres and pretty much everyone that's lost their battle," she said.
Among those riding in memory of family and friends are survivors.
"I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2004 and have been cancer free since then," said Diognes.
Diognes traveled from San Antonio to participate in the 16th annual Team LIVESTRONG Challenge.
"I'm really involved in LIVESTRONG. I think this is a great organization," Diognes said.
Mary Rastelli agrees. Also a survivor, she's helped raise a total of $5,000 for the LIVESTRONG rides in Austin and Philadelphia.
"It's important as a survivor to support the foundation," she said.
Rastelli has been cancer free for 20 years now, but the disease claimed the life of her husband two years ago.
"I also ride in memory of my husband John who lost his 10-year battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It's also important to get the message out for cancer support services," said Rastelli.
LIVESTRONG provides services that have helped more than 2.5 million people so far as they work together to win the fight against cancer.