IUP students Michael “Fred” Frederick, of Indiana, and Dan Esten, of Cinnaminson, N.J., were bicycling through Minnesota on Thursday, still facing the long end of their estimated 4,500-mile Tour for the Cure from Indiana, Pa., to Anchorage, Alaska.

Frederick and Esten, who said on their Web site that they both have lost loved ones to cancer, established the tour as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

By biking 60 to 70 miles a day, they plan to reach Anchorage by mid-August and be back at IUP for the start of classes. Frederick is a senior in the art department, and Esten a junior in food and nutrition.

The pair left Indiana on May 28 and reported that the weather is much better in Minnesota than when they passed through the floods in Iowa, according to Brenda Hullenbaugh of IUP's School of Graduate Studies and Research, where Frederick has been a student worker.

Sleeping in a tent carried on their bikes, they have come across many families who have offered a place to shower, hot meals, and a safe place to sleep, Hullenbaugh said. They have slept on front lawns, in barns and under eaves, with owner permission.

Along the way, the students even adopted a rat. Christopher Walken, as they named him, now rides in a cage on the front of one of their bikes.

According to Hullenbaugh, the students plan to get a satellite personal tracker, which will pinpoint their location for those wanting to watch their progress online. And they do have followers keeping up with their journey; there are several posts—many from family—on a blog on the Tour for the Cure Web site.

But the trek's physical demands should not overshadow the purpose, Hullenbaugh said. “Fred and Dan are spending their summer with their personal lives on hold to help others. … Relatives and friends are getting in touch with TV stations in hopes to create more publicity and in return create more donations toward this worthy cause.”

Find more information:

Tour for the Cure Web site

Tour for the Cure blog

Donating to Tour for the Cure

Photos on Web site of Ralph Esten, Dan's uncle