Cristal Ortega ’17 bikes across country to raise funds for cancer research


August 7, 2017

Cristal Ortega ’17 - whose story we featured in our holiday appeal - graduated in May, just a year later than expected after battling a rare form of cancer that sidelined her presence in the classroom but not her will to succeed. The first in her family to graduate from college, she wasn’t going to let something like a life-threatening disease keep her from attaining her goal. Over the course of chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and a long hospitalization - and with the support of campus champions like Sister Melissa Waters - Cristal kept up with her schoolwork as much as possible. Her determination was evident in the speech she gave during Candle and Rose. You can read more about Cristal’s struggle in an article in the Chicago Tribune by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Mary Schmich.

But what Cristal has done since graduating may be equally as remarkable. Just three weeks after she walked across the stage for her diploma, she got on a bike and joined a team of young people riding across the country to raise funds for cancer research and to drop off chemo care kits at medical centers along the way. Starting in Baltimore on June 4, the bikers will end their 4,500-mile journey in San Francisco on Saturday, August 12.

You are invited to celebrate Cristal’s inspiring accomplishment by joining her and her teammates and their family and friends at Crissy Field on East Beach (Jauss Street) - Dominican gear welcome. Celebrants will start gathering on the beach at 10:30 a.m.; the riders are scheduled to arrive at noon. The celebration will begin at 12:30 p.m. and end at 2 p.m., when the riders formally culminate their amazing 70-day experience by dipping their front tires in the Pacific Ocean.

Cristal’s ride is sponsored by Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults. You can see Cristal’s route across the country on the Team San Francisco site. If you have any specific questions about the Ulman 4K For Cancer ride, you can contact Greta Finney, the Team San Francisco coordinator, at