Profile

  • Route: Sierra
  • Ride Year: 2017
  • Hometown: San Antonio, TX

About: Hi there! I’m Marlene.

Although I was born in South Dakota, my parents brought me to Texas and out of the cold before my third birthday. I grew up in a tight-knit US Army community in El Paso and San Antonio with my parents and my sister.

I am in my fourth year at the University of Texas at Austin, studying history and English. My last spring semester took place at the University of Melbourne. Although slightly disappointed that kangaroos and koalas aren’t found in any of the classrooms back in the States, I am glad to be back.

My favorite way to balance all of my essay writing is to go outdoors. I love running routes around Austin with my friends in the Texas Running Club. Going at a slightly slower pace, I have spent lots of time hiking around Texas and the US. I am looking forward to hopping on a bike and seeing the country in a new way!

Why I Ride

I ride to honor my Aunt Julie.

My aunt has always been the “fun aunt.” She passed her daring on to me by making me her co-conspirator in mischief. Her fantastical stories of being carried down a mountain by an eagle in a far away land illuminated my dreams. She opened my mind to a world outside of my small self.

I thought my passionate and adventurous aunt could do anything. The thought that illness could dampen her life simply did not occur to me. Then when I was five, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. My young age kept me from fully understanding what was happening. All I knew was that we could draw on her bald head with special crayons. The simplicity of my assumption was shattered over and over again as I grew older and learned more about how drastically her diagnosis changed her life. Despite everything she went through, she remained strong through her treatment; she did not allow cancer to interfere with our relationship or my understanding of her.

More importantly, she transformed. Her fitness became an important part of her being. In opposition to the radiation, the chemotherapy, and her mastectomy, she pushed her body to exercise. Her optimism encouraged her to climb Mt. Rainier a year after she finished treatment. She has been in remission for 14 years and she now works to help other cancer survivors persevere through personal training and writing.

Her strength has been an inspiration for me. I can think of no better way to honor and celebrate her than to ride to Alaska in 2017. Doing so, I will join her in her fight against cancer.