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“You Only Have One Life” – Sister Inspires Students With Radical Cycling Transformation Amidst Hopes for El Tour de Tucson

Published 11/20/2023, 1:44 PM EST

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Embracing the soothing palm of faith, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity is making headlines. With a charismatic dedication beyond helping future generations, Sister Mary Ann Spanjers decided to win hearts, but not just through ethical standards. Evidently, she created wonders during the Tucson cycling championship, while hoping for more in the future. 

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Raised on a farm in Wisconsin, Sister Mary’s course of cycling was nothing short of mesmerizing, as she embodied more than the stereotypes of a typical nun. Standing as a testament to commitment and adventure, she defied expectations with her participation in the 2018 El Tour de Tucson. Additionally, Sister Mary’s epic feats transitioned into further glory as she aimed to join this year’s cycling tournament. 

Sister balances cycling aside leap of faith 


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Remarkably, Sister Mary Ann’s journey towards sisterhood was nowhere near conventional. While her upbringing depicted the essence of hard work and closeness to nature, Mary’s interest in faith escalated with time. Soon, she found fascination with St. Francis of Assisi, who shared her love for the outdoors and animals. Igniting a life of servitude and adventure, the sister’s versatility then came into play, marking a milestone when she chose to embark on pro-riding trips.

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For Mary, cycling was never just a hobby; it continued to ingrain a thrill-seeking rush in her mind, revolutionizing her career path. Significantly, the sister’s athletic prowess was rooted in her Dutch immigrant parents and, notably, her cycling enthusiast mother. Undeterred by life’s challenges, Sister Mary Ann rode on an extraordinary path, cycling through a vigorous area spanning Wisconsin and Michigan. 


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Battling through hurdles with delight

Subsequently, she even conquered Peru’s towering mountains and the halls of Congress, portraying unparalleled resilience. Then, Mary’s mission led her to Texas, aiding displaced individuals with her bilingual skills before destiny brought her to cycling escapades. As an avid cyclist, Sister Mary Ann’s dedication extended beyond mere competition. 


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Her prosperous cycling history, from traversing Pensacola, Florida, to Sarasota, assisted in completing the 2018 tour after battling breast cancer. Despite the scorching Arizona heat hindering her training, this year, she held a target to conquer either the 32- or 62-mile at the seasonal El Tour de Tucson. With determination in her eyes, Mary confessed the true beauty of living, remarking, “I tell my students, you only have one life.”


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Finding solace in teaching theology at San Miguel High School, Sister Mary became a beacon of hope for many underprivileged students. As the 2023 cycling race took off, it exhibited boundless enthusiasm, brightening the track on November 18. On the other hand, Sister Mary Ann Spanjers’ exceptional blend of faith and zest for life showcased a peak in athleticism, pedaling through barriers with persistence. 

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Written by:

Sanchari Bhaduri


One take at a time

Hello there readers! I am a spirited writer who brings you captivating stories at Viral Sports Moments! With a bachelor's degree in English, I kicked off my content creation journey back in 2015, diving headfirst into the thrilling world of freelancing. I have worn many hats along the way, including Content Manager at Reddit, where I honed my skills in the digital realm, accumulating a treasure trove of experience and a formidable skill set. Here at VSM, I revel in the wide range of sports we cover.
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Edited by:

Arnima Shukla