- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Cypress, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Mechanical Engineering
- Email: email@example.com
Hey, I’m Steven!
I am a Mechanical Engineering student here at UT Austin. This is my final year at the university. Outside the classroom you’d probably find me playing pick up games basketball, or watching it on TV. I’ve always had a passion for the sport and unfortunately I couldn’t land a scholarship at my 5’ 7’’ stature. I am also a huge movie buff and sometimes quote 90’s movies, even the bad ones.
I was born on Valentine’s day 22 years ago, so that’s pretty neat. I spent my entire childhood in Cypress, Texas raised by some cool people, Jorge and Zulema Aviles. I have two older siblings, Jocy and Eddy, who have always been that extra set of parents. My brother-in-law, Nic, is a second brother to me. I have a niece and a nephew, and if you were to speak with anyone who knew me personally, they’d say I have an obsession with them. They are literally all over my Instagram account. Each of them fully support me in all my endeavors and I owe everything to them. I also have a great group of friends.
I cannot begin to express what a blessing it is to be part of Texas 4000 and to surround myself with such amazing teammates. This will truly be a memorable experience and I’m excited for the adventure! I'm gunna have some killer glutes by the end of it. As the great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Time is very precious to me and I cherish every single moment of it.
Why I Ride
Cancer wasn’t something that I thought about growing up. It was not something that I wanted to think about, but it’s something that I have learned to be mindful about. It’s one thing to have heard stories of cancer, but to be face to face with a victim of cancer is an entirely different scenario.
The summer of 2008 was my first encounter with anyone who had cancer. My mom’s aunt or, how she calls her, Tía Angelina, was in her final stages of stomach cancer when my mom and I visited her. I was not particularly close with her, but I knew how much she meant to my mom. We didn’t make frequent trips to El Salvador, so I understood how urgent it was to see her. I remember walking into a room to find my family surrounding a hammock supporting Tía Angelina. The family could not afford to place her in hospital care, so a doctor made frequent visits to the home instead. The cancer had caused her to lose her appetite and her ability to control her bowel movements. As I knelt beside her, I couldn’t imagine the pain she was going through. My mom would tell me many stories about her. She would talk about how it was to grow up with her as a child. I know that there was much more to her than what I was witnessing. And although she lost her fight to cancer only a few days later, I will not let that be my last memory of her. Because I know she lived a long and fulfilling life. She cared for my own mom like she was her own child. That will be her legacy.
The second encounter with cancer was the first time I attended St. Baldrick’s annual “Brave the Shave” event. It was that moment when I actually took a step back and began to evaluate the life outside of mine. Each year, the S.M.I.L.E. (Students Making Impacts through Love and Empathy) organization hosts this event to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. The year I went it was held at Dell Children’s Hospital. Participants display the beauty of being bald by shaving their heads for the cause. I attended this event as an invited guest, but what I witnessed there was truly inspiring. As I saw the kids overlooking from hospital windows at the crowd of individuals shaving their heads on their behalf, it definitely left an impression in me. I knew that I wanted to make an impact like that some day.
My third, and most recent instance with cancer happened this past year after I joined Texas 4000. I was hanging out with a close friend of mine at his apartment, nothing out of the ordinary. The room grew silent, and I knew he had something on his mind that he wanted to share. It wasn’t until I addressed the awkward silence that he was brave enough to share with me that his doctor had located a tumor on his lower back at his last visit. Next thing I knew he was the one trying to console me and kept telling me not to worry. He’s not the type of person to seek attention, let alone stop cancer from ruining his high spirit, so it’s not a topic for discussion when I see him. But, it's something that I still think about each time someone mentions cancer.
Each of these instances in my life is personal to me, but the haunting truth is that this disease continues to threaten the lives of millions of individuals. I want to ride to spread awareness and give hope to those who need it most. I want people to know that there is a life beyond cancer; that cancer shouldn’t define a person. I want to ride for those who are struggling, and their loved ones. Lastly, I want to ride for my teammates and the unyielding spirit that lies within all who fight for the cause. They give me the drive to bike to Alaska.