- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Boerne, Texas
- School Year: Junior
- Major: Corporate Communications
- Email: [email protected]
Hey, my name is Cienna Taylor! I am a junior at The University of Texas at Austin majoring in Corporate Communication and getting a certificate in Business Foundations. I transferred to UT Austin after attending DePaul University in Chicago, IL.
I spent most of my childhood in Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas where some of my family still lives. I have two younger brothers Sebastian and Simon and my older sister, Ciera. My parents, Donna and David are awesome and always support me in all of my crazy endeavors. From strangely successful lemonade stands to the pet sitting business I began when I was seven, and built a clientele list of over 20 houses. It became stagnant because I had to ride my bike to their houses which at that time, and for my petite stature was a difficult task. It is because of the unwavering support from my family that I have the opportunity to be a Longhorn and as a result a Texas 4000 rider. They have always challenged me to do my best and be considerate of others. It was through my Mom that I began volunteering at the Cibolo Nature Center in Boerne and have since fallen in love with the non-profit world and varying philanthropic endeavors.
If you know me, I have always felt the need to do more. I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to be devoting my time to a cause so much bigger than myself with such an incredible group of people!
I have only just started this 18 month journey and I am excited to see how I grow as a leader and do everything I can in creating a cancer-free future.
To Alaska and Back,
Why I Ride
The moment I heard about Texas 4000, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Riding with Texas 4000 is so important to me because it provides the opportunity to honor those who have fought and lost the battle, celebrate those who have survived, support those who are currently fighting, and fundraise to support research for those who have yet to be diagnosed. It is an opportunity to aid those who have lost or seen a loved one endure it or be that support for someone who has experienced it first hand.
Up to this point, I had spent the majority of my life in Boerne, Texas. It’s a small town where everyone tends to know everyone because they grow up together. This is where I met Joey. It was second grade, we had class together with Mrs. Hogan, and would always play with the class bunny, Snickers. One of my fondest memories with him was after a high school football game where Joey, along with some of the other players, missed the bus back to school and we all piled into my super cool white mini-van. We sang the national anthem at the top of our lungs with the windows down, and timed it perfectly, so as soon as we entered the parking lot the song finished. It’s simple, but in that moment we were happy- it was as if nobody had a care in the world. We left for college, returned and got together over breaks, and everything always went back to normal. As if nobody ever left.
This past summer that normalcy broke when Joey was hospitalized on June 8th. He was admitted after experiencing severe vision loss. After a concerning MRI, Joey had brain surgery on June 18th and by the end of the month had a confirmed diagnosis of Stage I inoperable intracranial Germinoma Cancer. Within a matter of weeks, Joey’s entire life was put on pause. He was forced to withdraw from school and couldn’t drive anywhere due to his vision loss. Chemo started on July 13th and and continued until October 6th, and then he completed radiation.
I have never been so scared. The thought of losing him is numbing, and throughout the summer I saw the effect the drugs had on him. He lost his hair within a few weeks, and he grew paler and weaker. I constantly wondered how this poison could be doing anything beneficial. Before school started, I went back to Boerne to take Joey to Chemo and give his mom the day off. This trip only further solidified my desire to ride. There wasn’t an empty seat and the Cancer Center had people of all different ages. It was cold, sad, and it broke my heart to see all of these mothers, fathers, sisters, and grandparents tethered to their IV pole.
Before this day I strongly identified with the Texas 4000 pillar of Hope. You hope that it will be a good day, hope that the pain is worth it and it is working, hope that no one will ever have to endure it. I realized after this day, how crucial the Knowledge pillar is. Sometimes its genetic and other times its environmental and many times you don't know the cause. There are too many factors and that just shows how much more needs to be done to ensure that one day cancer will no longer control how someone spends their time, take away memories, or steal childhoods.
I learned about and researched Texas 4000 in January upon first transferring to UT. I really identified with the mission because of Rosie, a ball of sunshine that I met while attending DePaul University and participating in DemonTHON a branch of the miracle network dance marathon movement.
Rosie has a smile that lights up a room and a sense of maturity beyond her years. Now 11, she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis at the young age of three. She has inoperable and reoccurring brain tumors and has already undergone 22 surgeries, nine of which have been on the brain. She has endured over 743 doses of Chemotherapy, and counting, using six different drugs. She recently finished, a clinical phase II trial taking an experimental oral chemotherapy. Cancer has stolen her childhood. It has replaced playgrounds with IVs and sleepovers with endless nights at Lurie Children’s in Chicago. I will never forget when I heard their story- Jo mama, a great mom, and Bella, an incredible sister- their lives turned upside down with no power to turn it back. The drugs aren’t working and since being diagnosed, Rosie has acquired numerous other diseases which further complicate her treatment. I keep in contact with her family through social media and am always motivated by them.
Rosie will always hold a place in my heart, and continues to inspire me every day. Rosie started something at her children’s hospital called Rosie’s Toy Box. Its an organization that collects new toys to give to children in the hospital which allows them to forget, even if just for a moment that they are sick. She started Rosie’s Toy box “to spread sunshine, joy, and hope one toy at a time.” Rosie has the perfect example on how one person can make such a positive impact on those around her and I aspire to be more like her every day. When you ask about her hobbies she responds with dancing, raising money for pediatric cancer, and swimming. It is my greatest hope that she will have the chance to be a kid again, which is why I want to do everything in my power to make that happen.
In addition to Rosie and Joey I can think of at least 6 other people within my personal sphere whom have fought cancer themselves or lost a loved one because of it. I ride for Mrs. Wheat my best friend’s mom who has beaten breast cancer twice. I grew up with them- spending countless summer nights in their pool or sleeping over and playing "Dance Dance Revolution." At the time she was diagnosed I didn't understand what it meant to have cancer or the severity that was attached to it. Nor did I know, at the time, how to react and support my friend. I ride for the entire Wheat Family, our first and oldest friends in Fair Oaks Ranch. I ride for a mentor of mine and my mother’s close friend who’s currently battling prostate cancer. For my 10th grade English teacher who was diagnosed 4 years ago and recently lost his battle. I ride for Parker who is five years old and a Miracle Child with Texas THON who recently beat Leukemia. I ride for Rosie, I ride for Joey, I would ride for all of their families.
I am riding in support of my team members and all whom they ride for, and everyone whose stories I have yet to hear.
I am prepared to dedicate my entire self to fighting cancer every mile and beyond. Will you join me in the fight?