- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Houston, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Management
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I grew up in a suburb of Houston called Clear Lake (home to the NASA Johnson Space Center) with my older brother and parents. There are three things you should know about me:
1. My family is everything to me: Both of my parents have 6 siblings - I have 9 aunts, 3 uncles, and over 30 cousins. I grew up with a crazy, loud, and over-the-top support system, and I wouldn't have it any other way!
2. I love food: I am a passionate (read: amateur) baker and my absolute favorite thing to do is explore all of the food Austin has to offer.
3. I hate cancer: Texas 4000 provides a unique way to raise awareness, give hope to those affected by cancer, and donate to the fight against cancer. I am beyond excited to begin this journey with my passionate and inspiring team members!
Why I Ride
Rakesh is an inspiration, a warrior, strong as a rock, and our very own “Man of Steel.” Judging by the many titles he was given, it was clear that Rakesh, or Rocky as we affectionately called him, was the Superman who had no Kryptonite. The most compelling thing about him was his inability to find flaws in those around him. I still remember the time he taught me a song about the cardiovascular system when I was struggling with biology. He had just met me a few months ago, but went through so much trouble just because he knew I needed help. With Rocky, it didn’t matter how long you knew him or how well you knew him, he treated everyone exactly the same.
I ride for Rakesh, his battle against leukemia, and all of the aspiring young lives that cancer has turned upside down.
I still remember when I wanted to do everything just like my cousin Rupal. When I wanted to paint my nails the same color as her. When 7 year old me “secretly” used her curling iron (ouch!) and tried on her makeup while she was at work. When, at her wedding, I wanted to be just as dressed up as she was. The truth is, I still want to be just like her when I grow up. I see her beauty and wisdom every time I look at her two daughters. I know that I am not alone when I say that Rupal is the most inspiring woman I have ever known. Even throughout life’s most inexplicably difficult times, one thing remained constant: her smile.
I ride for Rupal, her short-lived battle against gastric cancer, and other parents who have left their young children behind due to this horrible disease.
Dahiba is the sweetest woman you'll ever meet. My grandmother took it upon herself to treat everyone around her as if they were her own. Even at the age of 85, her memory and wit were sharper than mine will ever be. She always told me that she had only gone to school up to 4th grade, and how proud she was to see her 7 children and 17 grandchildren become so well-educated and successful. She is the reason my enormous family makes it a point to be there for every important (or unimportant) event in our lives. Watching her go through the pain of losing a Rupal was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
I ride for Dahiba, the love that she gave us for so many years, and other family members that have to go through the pain of losing a loved one to cancer.
My uncle Naresh, or Patel Fua as we called him, was always the life of the party - cracking jokes and teasing us was probably his favorite thing to do. He, my father, and most of the other men in my family grew up in a community where chewing tobacco and smoking cigarettes was accepted as a cultural norm. A large portion of the low-income South Asian population today is not aware of the devastating consequences of tobacco use. While the men in my family gave up their bad habits decades ago, they are still at risk for developing the various diseases and forms of cancer caused by tobacco use. Patel Fua was diagnosed with oral cancer even though he hasn't chewed tobacco in over 20 years. I live in constant fear that one day my dad or another family member will fall victim to this horrible disease as a result of their adolescent negligence. Nobody should have to live in fear of something that is entirely preventable at its roots.
I ride for Patel Fua, all of the men in my family, and the initiative to educate more people about cancer prevention.
I ride for those who have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer, and those who will unfortunately be troubled by cancer in the future. I ride with the hope that the grief we feel today can be turned into positive momentum to build a cancer free tomorrow.