Baltimore Sun Media Group Despite heat that was enough to draw sweat from the cheering crowd, meteorologist Justin Berk and seven members of the Maryland Trek bicycling team rode their way through Howard and Carroll counties this month, raising money for children battling cancer as part of the Cool Kids Campaign.

The fourth annual Maryland Trek, a six-day journey on foot and on bike across the state, took place Aug. 13-19. More than 20 people participated in this year’s trek, which travels 325 miles from the tip of Western Maryland to Ocean City, with each day broken into a combination of 26-mile hikes and a minimum of12-mile bike rides.

The local leg of the journey included a stop in Sykesville, then a path along Frederick Road that took participants through West Friendship and Ellicott City before entering Baltimore County.

Each year the riders raise money for Cool Kids, an organization dedicated to supporting pediatric oncology patients and their families.

Berk said he started the Maryland Trek in 2014,in memory of the time he wasdiagnosed with bone cancer at the age of14.

The diagnosis turned out to be a staph infection in his bones,but Berk said turning 41 made him think back on his hospital experience and search for a way to do more to help.

“The wayIsawit,41is areflection of14,and Istarted reflecting on my experiences,” Berk said. “I wanted to honor the bonus time I was given by helping out.”

The first year, they raised about $25,000 throughout the ride, with a similar amount in the ride’s second year. Last year, through the partnershipwithTri-SportJunctioninSykesville, they were able to raise $35,000. This year, Berk said, the group was on track to surpass that total.

David Larkin of Sykesville rode with the group for the second time this year. He said last year he rode through the first leg of the journey,while this year he’shad the chance to join them for the middle and final legs.

“It’s amazing how many people cancer touches in the community and how many people around here support the cause,”

Larkin said.

“The crowd here was fantastic,” he said of those who showed up in Sykesville for the Aug.16 stop. “So many people we know might not be with the Cool Kids, but have struggled with their own challenges with cancer or some other diseases. It brings you all together.

It’s about helping each other and supporting each other.”

One ofthose being honored during the ride was Meredith Mahr-Edmunds, a friend of Berk’s who recently died. During her funeral, the family handed out packets of seeds to plant flowers in her memory. Each day throughout the ride, Berk said, they stopped to plant the seeds along the way.

Though each individual day can be difficult, Berk said it’s that difficulty that makes the ride so important.

“This is our decision, our choice to be out there and put ourselves through this,” Berk said. “It’ll be done when the event’s done, but forthesekids, theydon’thave thatchoice. Any pain and discomfort we go through pales in comparison to what these kids are fighting.”