- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Plano, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Biology
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About: Hey y’all! My name is Jennifer Gigliotti, but most of my friends call me Jen. Born and raised in Plano, TX with one brother by my side, we were involved in all the sports, and of course, I couldn’t skip out on dancing. My parents gave both of us so much, but I can confidently say one thing this Gigliotti missed out on was athletic ability. Therefore, I didn’t end up in sports at all, and of all things had a passion for art, which I pursued throughout high school and still love and appreciate so much. As a kid I also hated anything relating to science, so naturally I am now a third year biology major with the hopes of becoming a doctor. My dreams of becoming a doctor was a result of two different reasons, one of which is my family history with cancer and illness and the other is my love for biology (so nerdy, I know) that slowly developed when I got to high school. I have the biggest and best family ever, with 13 cousins and about the same number of aunts and uncles. I go to the beach every year with some of my family and with friends that have become like family, and these have been some of the best weeks of my life. Beach or any other crazy, huge family reunion (I have met my 5th cousin before, seriously..), I always have so much fun with every one of them and am so thankful for all the joy they have brought into my life. Outside of school and family, I love just being with my friends, binge-watching Netflix, and of course, being in Austin, eating way, way too much amazing food. Coming to UT and being in Austin has been such an adventure, and I am so excited to now be a part of Texas 4000 and help in the fight against cancer!
Why I Ride
I ride for my Grandpa, who died of leukemia when I was 8 years old after fighting for 9 long years. He had cancer my entire life, and I didn’t even realize until I was 6 when it got bad again. My grandpa was one of the best people I have ever known. From making sea animals in the sand every year when we went to the beach to taking us to Disney more times than most 8 year olds have probably been, he did so much to make the most of his time with each of his grandchildren. He even left behind some stock in Disney World for my cousins and I before he died. It may make $0.75 each year and make us laugh a little each time we have to go to cash the check, but I love that he cared so much to leave a little piece of himself behind for each of us. I only wish there could have been more years, because 8 was not nearly enough.
I ride for my Grandma, who had ovarian cancer before I was born. I may not have seen the cancer affect her, but I did see the effects of her radiation treatment almost 20 years later and still see them today. My grandma started getting sick when I was in middle school, and it got worse and worse until she could hardly keep food down and lost a shocking amount of weight. She went to a few doctors before they discovered that the radiation treatment she had for her cancer had damaged her intestines. She had surgery to fix this problem, which helped for a while, but she will live with these consequences for the rest of her life. My grandma does everything for her children and grandchildren, so I want to ride for her and for others who have suffered similar consequences from having cancer. I ride to hopefully one day find a cure, that does exactly that: cure.
I ride for my other grandma, who had breast cancer when I was 10. She was successfully treated after a lump on her breast was removed and later underwent radiation treatment. Whenever we were together, we were no doubt in a movie theater and still to this day every time we talk we always have to mention the latest movies we’ve seen. We also played games together endlessly. From board games to marbles to war to black jack, these are some of my most cherished childhood memories, and something I am so happy I got to spend my time doing with her and my grandpa every time I saw them.
I ride for my uncle Denny, who has beat skin cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid cancer, along with more recently fighting through a medically induced coma to beat bacterial meningitis and a year later getting triple bypass surgery after a heart attack. He is truly one of the strongest men I know. Whether he is making my cousins and I laugh every chance he gets or relating to us on a level that not many other adults would take the time to do, he is the best uncle anyone could have.
I ride for my cousin and my uncle Denny’s son, Bryan. He also fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was going through college. There has never been a time where I have been around Bryan where he wasn’t trying to make everyone laugh. I admire him so much for dealing with something I couldn’t imagine dealing with at this age, and handling it so incredibly well.
I ride for my dad, the latest member of my family to battle cancer. He beat prostate cancer 4 years ago with the help of the doctors at MD Anderson. I just recently found out his prostate cancer is back, and he will be undergoing radiation treatment to hopefully beat it a second time around. My dad has instilled in me a passion to experience life to the fullest and to not take life too seriously, which I find myself doing far too often. He is my inspiration in so much that I do and if I did not have him here, I’m not sure what I would do.
Last but certainly not least, I ride for my mom. She has seen more cancer in her life than I have, and is now fighting a battle of her own with multiple sclerosis (MS). This may not be cancer, but it is just as scary and just as hindering. My mom has given my brother and I everything, and would do anything to see us happy. I don’t think there will ever be enough words to tell her how much I appreciate her in my life or how lost I would be without her. With this ride, I hope to give a little back to her in return for everything she has done for us.
I ride for everyone that has ever had to hear that someone they love is sick. Whether its curable or not, whether they survive or not, it is something that impacts your life forever. It’s impacted the way I think, the way I do things, the choices I make. It has shaped my life in ways I couldn’t have imagined as a child, and now I’m going into the medical field in hopes of helping others like doctors have helped my family so much in the past. I ride for the future patients I hope to help and the people that are suffering as we speak. I ride in hopes of making any difference, if even only a little bit, that I can in this fight. I ride because there is nothing I could possibly be more excited and proud to dedicate my time and effort on than this. I ride for them.