University Housing Blog

Biking across the country gave Wassaja resident assistant a new perspective

They say to give college all you’ve got – to never pass up a new opportunity to do something great. Junior Steven Sabatini has taken this saying to heart and done some pretty incredible things.  
Sabatini is a resident assistant (RA) living in Wassaja Hall. He says every day in the job brings a new experience, but being an RA has taught him, “the ability to learn how to understand other people’s opinions and the ability to change your opinion – as well as be empathetic.” 
Empathy is one of the characteristics that makes Sabatini stand out the most. Freshman year, Steven joined the University of Illinois Illini 4000 – a RSO and 501-C3 nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for cancer and patient research by conducting an annual cross-country cycling trip from New York all the way to San Francisco. 
Sabatini first heard about the organization at Quad Day when he was a freshman, and recalls, “I was amazed at the idea.” So, he applied to the selective organization and was accepted. 
Cycling teams of approximately 25 participants leave late May each year and cycle for 72 days over the summer. To save money and increase the total donation, teams spend their nights at any location that will host them for free – such as a church, a YMCA, or a school. Each rider is responsible for raising $4,000. This past summer, Illini 4000 raised more than $100,000. Since it began twelve years ago, members have raised more than one million dollars for cancer research. The purpose is to help people see the greater national community at work as an outlet to help cancer patients find peace. 
When asked to explain his experience in one word, Sabatini smiles and says, “You can’t. It’s life changing.”
Now the president of the Illini 4000, Sabatini reflects back on his experience. 
“If you’re willing to indulge in the opportunity at hand, Illini 4000 will refine and deepen your best characteristics as well as introduce you to new perspectives and mindsets.” 
Serving as an RA and president of Illini 4000 allows Sabatini to continually practice his leadership, communication, and listening skills. These opportunities have been life-changing experiences thus far, and he looks forward to what the future holds. 

You can find out more about Illini 4000 and make a pledge or donation at