- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Plano, Texas
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Aerospace Engineering Honors & Plan II Honors
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About: An emigrant from his hometown of Plano, Texas, Trey quickly converted to the Austin lifestyle through paddle boarding on Lady Bird Lake, exploring the various hiking trails of the Greenbelt, and eating a food truck-centric diet. He is currently in the midst of his fourth year pursuing a dual-degree in Aerospace Engineering Honors and Plan II Honors. Trey recently returned from a semester abroad in Madrid, Spain, and interned at the U.S. Department of State this past summer. His previous work experience includes research at MIT Lincoln Laboratory during the summer of 2015, where he developed enhanced the space control surveillance capabilities for the United States Air Force. He hopes to be able to create national security solutions through leveraging advanced technical knowledge against a firm foundation of historical and political contexts. Around campus, Trey is an Undergraduate Fellow for the Clements Center, a Texas 4000 rider to fight cancer, and a research assistant for Dr. Hans Mark.
Why I Ride
It was the first time I had ever seen my parents look nervous. That’s the only reason the memory imprinted itself into my six-year-old mind. It was the first time that I perceived a chink in the invincible armor that I projected onto my seemingly omnipotent guardians. It was the first time I had heard the words cancer, or chemotherapy. All these words meant to me was my mom also needed nap time, and that other families began to cook us an endless stream of lasagna. The notion that my mom might lose her hair shocked me—when my parents joked about this I broke down, completely inconsolable, screaming “I don’t want you to change!” To say I hoped my mother would get better, while definitely true, does not quite characterize my emotions at the time. It went beyond mere hope, farther than humble optimism; my feelings were a complete, immutable confidence that Mom would get better soon. I was too young to remember of how long “soon” took, but after eight months that my mom was officially in remission, and five years later she was declared cancer free. When asked about my family, or my relationship with my parents, I never talk about Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I have the privilege to talk about how we disagreed about which internship I should pursue, or the honor to say that they just had a cold this past weekend. I was never exposed to the cold statistics that have permeated cancer treatment, from stage number to survival rate to days until next treatment. My first interaction with cancer involved none of the too-precise data analytics that rigidly spurn ideals like love, faith, or hope. All I possessed was the unadulterated belief of my mom’s imminent recovery, and my patience to be there until she was all-better.
During that first talk, my parents committed to giving me the knowledge of what “the C-word” really was. The idea that one’s cells could suddenly go rouge was frankly terrifying; a hideous literal manifestation of the metaphorical “internal battle”. Moreover, while science is clear about how certain activities can increase one’s chances of particular cancers, the vast majority of patients are guilty only of living. It defied my carefully constructed norms of morality: no matter how benign the circumstances, no matter if one does everything right, sometimes some cells simply decide they just really enjoy growing. Early detection is what helped save my mom when I was little, and it recently helped save my grandfather when he was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. A dermatologist constantly monitoring my dad is what has helped prevent a childhood without sunscreen from becoming melanoma. Texas 4000 to me is not about a grand physical undertaking, nor is it chiefly a coming-of-age adventure across North America. Texas 4000 is about spreading hope, knowledge, and charity to every community supporting cancer patients, to every family struggling to find a new normal, to every individual awake at night wondering which side of the survival rate they will fall on. Texas 4000 for Cancer is about making a dent on the steadily falling numbers of women taking mammograms, on improving the rate of men performing prostate cancer tests, on closing the gap between the screenings performed by those with and without insurance.
I wish I could say I actively helped my mom with her fight with cancer. I wish I could say I was more obedient, more appreciative, more understanding. I like to think I would have, but to be perfectly honest I didn’t understand. I was frustrated by the lack of attention, by everyone being physically and emotionally exhausted, and I am still not a fan of lasagna. I did not help my mom fight cancer as much as I could have, but I will to make up for my lackluster effort, to pass forward all of the hope that my community gave my mom. I ride to reach out and help spread hope to another parent with a child who may or may not really understand their family’s situation. I ride to spread knowledge to help a family identify a potentially cancerous growth earlier, to help their statistics look a bit more promising. I ride to be there in case someone decides to voice the thoughts that never stop hovering in the back of their mind. I ride to be there for someone who wants to talk about anything but cancer, whether that be fantasy football, our favorite foods, or portrait photography. I ride to give all of myself: my time, my talent, my treasure toward fighting cancer. Fighting cancer cell by cell, person by person, mile by mile. I will ride a bike to Alaska to fight cancer because of my mom, my dad, and my grandfather. I ride because I know I can help the thousands of families who wonder how to explain to their little kids why one of them may go bald.