Coast to Coast for Cancer

2012 grad runs across the U.S. to raise money for cancer research

By April Arnold  |  Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Piper

Elizabeth Piper, '12, during a trip to Nepal while studying abroad in Thailand

Growing up, Elizabeth Piper, ’12, watched as her father suffered the loss of both parents to cancer. The memory of how difficult that time was for her father has stuck with her.

After a year teaching with Loyola’s program in Thailand, she came back to the States, settled in Baltimore, and decided to take action by fundraising for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults through the 4k For Cancer.

Beginning on June 25, Piper started running on a relay team with 20 recent college graduates on a 4,000-mile journey from the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge to Federal Hill in Baltimore in 30 days.

Piper had planned to begin the run with the group on June 19, but her mother passed away the week before. She is dedicating this run to her mom.

Loyola magazine sat down with Piper before her trip to the starting line of the run on the West Coast.

How did you hear about this run across America?

When I got home from Thailand I was motivated to do service. Through a friend I heard about the Ulman Cancer Fund and its efforts to raise money for young adults with cancer. I couldn’t imagine others my age having to live such a drastically different life than my own. What made me want to do this run was that it was more than just asking people to help; it was showing others how much the cause meant to me.

How are you going to run across the country in 30 days?

Everyone on the team has to run eight segments of two-mile runs for a total of 16 miles a day. We’ll split into teams and take breaks in between running segments. Our destination is Federal Hill on July 14, having completed 4,000 miles total.

What are your plans after completing your run?

Right now I’m pursuing a career as a life coach. I’ve been speaking in schools around Baltimore, trying to teach young girls about building confidence and making positive decisions. I want to use my experiences from abroad and educate girls about overcoming societal pressures.

What was it like going abroad for your first job?

I’ve always wanted to travel. When I had the chance to live in Bangkok to teach, I knew I had to take it. It was the coolest experience of my life getting to hang out with Thai people and learn about their culture. To have this experience at 22 years old was incredible. Not everyone loves their first job but I did!
In what ways do you think Loyola inspired your drive for community service?

Loyola helped plant the seed of what can be done in the community. I took a class for my major in communication where we talked to women in a Baltimore prison. It was a chance to step out of your comfort zone and learn about others in need. It showed me the difference I was able to make in the community.

Learn more about Piper’s run on the 4k for Cancer website.

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