• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2017
  • Hometown: Northbrook, IL

About: Hi! My name is Jeff and I’m a second-year student here at the Forty Acres. I hail from a suburb thirty minutes out from Chicago called Northbrook, Illinois. (Fun Fact: scenes from The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off were filmed at my high school!) I love mathematics and have high hopes for a future full of calculus. I’d tell you my favorite movie, but that’d be a breach of security-questions.

I am a son, a brother, and a husband to most (fingers crossed that joke didn't fall flat). I was raised by my parents John and Jackie, alongside my sister Gillian and the most recent addition to my family, my dog Lady. My family is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. My mother and her nine siblings immigrated here from Vietnam with little else than the clothes on their backs. My mother worked as a maid for many years to make ends meet, but eventually went on to earn her doctorate. My father is the makings of a Jeopardy contestant, always having a random trivia fact at hand. Throughout my life he has challenged me to think in different ways and learn as much as I possibly can.

Coming to Texas was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. UT has a community of incredibly driven individuals who wish to give back, and I am so lucky to be amongst them. Some of the organizations I have found myself in are Texas THON, Camp Texas, Young Life, SEAL and now Texas 4000!

Why I Ride

I originally chose to join Texas 4000 in honor of my grandma’s fight with lung cancer. My mom’s mom, Phung Thi An, began her battle with lung cancer when I was in elementary school. Seeing how difficult it was on my family is when I first began to see the true meaning of a cancer diagnosis. Every school break, I would always visit my grandma out in California with my mom. Going to Texas for college made it increasingly difficult to find time and money to see my family. This past year was especially tough as I had to spend most of my school breaks to train for the summer ride. Our team left for Alaska on June 2nd, 2017, and on the very same day, my grandma passed away. This made the beginning of the summer hard. Not only was I away from my family for another summer, but I was unable to attend the funeral of the very person I ride for. It was discouraging, but it didn’t take long for me to find more and more reasons to keep riding. It was the immense generosity of our hosts who went out of their way to do anything and everything for us. It was watching a mother’s heart break all over again when telling us the story of the child she lost to childhood cancer, yet still doing everything in her power to help us ensure another mother will never have to experience the same. It was the pediatric cancer survivor that I watched introduce his wife and two daughters to the doctor who saved his life 20 years prior. This ride is far from as glamorous as it may seem, but it has been beautiful in countless other ways. The ride has given me hope for more happy endings, and I am so very thankful. For Ba, Grandma Sally, Max, Dashiell, SW’s mom, Ryan, Billy, Kyle, Dick, Donna, Mike, Becky, Vu, Katie’s mom, Riddhi’s Dad.