- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2015
- Hometown: The Woodlands, TX
- School Year: Sophomore
- Major: Nursing
- Email: Cecilia.Lopez1tex@gmail.com
Hello everyone and welcome to my page! Some call me by my full name but I mostly go by Ceci. Although I was born in California I was raised in the Woodlands TX for a majority of my childhood. Here I was raised by my wonderful and loving parents Daniel and Melissa. Up until high school, I was homeschooled by my mother alongside my beautiful sister Natalia who was only 18 months older. Home-schooling allowed for my sister and I to participate in many different types of activities such a dance, art, acting and an array of sports. At the age of 11, I began to become very involved in competitive soccer playing for Challenge Soccer Club. Here I fell in love with the club and the game. For seven years I played for this club where I was coached by some of the best coaches in the country. I will always be thankful for the lessons I learned and the friendships I gained through this incredible experience. I fully believe Challenge has taught me to mentally fight through adversity and will be very useful when I bike to Alaska.
The start of my high-school experience was a bit different than most others. First off, I intended on being home-schooled all through high-school, however plans changed when my sister, Natalia, was diagnosed with Leukemia. We were forced to pretty much relocate to downtown Houston for 9 months while she was treated at Texas Children's. Due to this, I realized it would be easier on my family for me to enroll in public school and I began my freshman year at The Woodlands High School. I came to find I loved public school! I met some of my best friends here and I was taught by some of greatest teachers who I will never forget. I was planning to attend college to play soccer, however, as many things in life do, my plans changed and I decided to attend the University of Texas to pursue a career in nursing. I ultimately chose this because I was inspired by the wonderful nurses who treated and cared for my sister during her long treatment. I am currently in my freshman year here at UT and loving it. I continue to play the sport I love on the Women's Club Soccer Team. Although it was a bumpy ride, I am blessed with the path that brought me here and have truly come to learn that everything happens for a reason.
Why I Ride
On January 11, 2009, my fifteen year old sister was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. From that point on our lives changed forever. For the next nine months, my young sister would be confined to a room of beeping monitors and IVs, with only a few weeks of home time to look forward to. One might think this would truly upset a young girl as she is forced to put her life on hold. Instead, my sister chose not to view her diagnosis as a burden, but as a blessing; a way to help others with the same condition as her own. With her head high and a wide smile on her face, my sister would go to the rooms of the newly diagnosed patients and give them guidance, advice, and most of all, hope. Like a rainbow coming out of a storm, my sister was the beautiful light that shined throughout the bleak halls of the hospital.
My sister was a hero. She chose not to hate her life but to use her precious days as best as she could. Unfortunately, those days where limited. On October 28, 2009, just a short nine months after her diagnosis, she passed away from lung failure. Although my sister only lived for a mere sixteen years, she managed to bring more joy and happiness to others than most can accomplish in a whole lifetime. Living a selfless life, she wore a smile that infected everyone around her. She never questioned her faith, she never despised life, and she never looked back on what could have been. She always looked forward, even until the day she died. In late October, as her lungs were slowly failing and her condition was getting worse, we were able to talk alone one last time. With her weak hand in mine, she whispered to me softly, “Promise me you won’t be sad after I leave, Ceci.”
As a cascade of big salty tears rushed down my face, I promised her and myself that her death would not kill me as well. I would live on to preserve her memory. That conversation has been forever tattooed in my mind. There is not a day that goes by that I do not remind myself of the promise I had made to my sister. Somehow, I would have to find a way to be happy again.
After my sister’s death, I remember telling myself that everything happens for a reason, but never being able to see one. Why? Why did someone so generous and loving have to leave? I asked myself these questions every day as I had to adjust to a life without my sister, my role model, and my best friend. However, I slowly came to realize that my sister had left a lasting impact on my life. The bright spirit and contagious energy that poured out from her helped me grasp that the shortness of life leaves no time to dwell on the little things. I decided not to lament over my sister’s death, but to live a life of compassion and benevolence, as I knew she would have done if she were still alive.
I will forever be apart of the cancer family and over the last four years I continued to return to the 9th floor at Texas Children's Hospital at least once a month. Here I was blessed with getting to know the brave children fighting for their lives. I was in awe of their strength and positivity throughout it all. Unfortunately, many of them joined my sister in heaven. Being forever moved by these young heroes, I knew I had to do something to give back to them.
Last summer Bucky Ribbeck, a cancer survivor who was treated alongside my sister, rode on the 2013 Texas 4000 team and dedicated his ride to my sister, as well as naming his bike after her. I was so inspired and moved by the way he honored her memory in such a beautiful way. When I decided to come to The University of Texas, I knew that Texas 4000 was the perfect organization for me. I truly believe there is no better way for me to remember and honor all of the fallen heroes in my life. They are my role models, my inspirations, my heroes. I will never forget them. Each day I want nothing more than to live the way they did while fighting cancer: full of strength and positivity. I hope that through Texas 4000, I can bring some of their positivity and strength to my team. So I ride for them. I ride so that one day young precious lives will not be taken from this earth. I ride for my sister Natalia, Rosa I, Preston W, Craig B, C-Boogie, Amber and Cory. Each day, each mile, each pedal will be for them.