St. Andrew's is just one stop on cyclist Stacia Smart's 1100 mile journey to raise funds for glioblastoma research
On Tuesday, September 21, the student body gathered in front of Founders Hall to welcome cyclist Stacia Smart as she came up the Main Drive on her racing bike. Smart is undertaking an 1,100-mile solo bicycle tour along the East Coast in order to raise funds for glioblastoma research, and in honor of St. Andrew's alumni Owen Strong ’07, who died from the effects of glioblastoma on January 11, 2020.
Smart’s journey—dubbed the “G’Owen Strong Tour”—began at Owen’s alma mater Tufts University in Boston. Her stops along the way are places of significance to Owen: New York City, where Owen was raised; St. Andrew’s, which he, his sister Leda ’10, and his father Ed ’66 all attended; and the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, where Owen was treated at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.
“The purpose of G’Owen Strong is not only to raise money with the goal of improving the lives of those affected by glioblastoma,” Smart said in a chapel talk given to the school community on Wednesday night. “It is also about paying Owen’s gifts forward: creating a positive impact wherever possible, and ultimately, making the most of what this life has to offer.”
“Owen will always be a part of this family, and we all miss him,” said Head of School Joy McGrath to the crowd that greeted Smart upon arrival, which included Owen’s family. “He was such a decent human being, and such a joyful person. We are all here to salute you today for what you’re accomplishing on behalf of glioblastoma research. What’s incredible about what you’re doing is you’re taking what is a moment that has been, for all of us who know Owen, a moment of total devastation and loss, and turning it into hope and positivity and energy. You are teaching us how to take moments like that and from them, create beauty and purpose in our lives. We’re grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge that and learn that from you, Stacia. Thank you for including us.”
A sea of students in navy blue G’Owen Strong t-shirts welcomed Smart with noisemakers, poms poms, and plenty of state-tournament-level Saints cheering. The SAS vestry announced that they raised $1,000 through that week’s chapel donations for glioblastoma research; the G’Owen Strong Tour will divide its proceeds between the Tisch Brain Tumor Center and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City (where Owen also received treatment). Students also presented Stacia with zinnias grown in the school’s Organic Garden.
“[This ride] has certainly been a test,” Smart said in her chapel talk, “but I know, thanks to Owen, it is nothing that I cannot handle. It’s really hard sometimes to have the motivation to carry onward when your goal seems so far away and you’re being pulled in many directions. But, I would remind myself of the end goal that would bring me back to the present. Back to the purpose of what each workout represented. Back to the positive impact I hope G’Owen Strong will have on others.”
You can read Smart’s chapel talk in full here. Learn more about the "G'Owen Strong" tour here, and follow along Smart’s journey on Instagram here. Photos of Smart's visit to campus can be viewed below; click any image to expand.