- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2017
- Hometown: Dallas, TX
- School Year: Junior
- Major: Public Relations
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Tai, pronounced like tie-your-shoes, or the “Thai” in Thailand. I'm the product of two wonderful parents who also created my two best friends, my older brother and my younger brother. Though Dallas is my hometown, I lived outside of New York City for most of my childhood, the Bahamas for part of my sophomore year of high school, and now, my favorite place so far - Austin, Texas.
I love my family, friends, three dogs, snowboarding, toasted bagels, creative writing, Chance the Rapper and listening to Eagles Live on vinyl. I'm a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, currently serving as Vice President in charge of Standards. Public Relations is my major because I'm fascinated by the industry, but I'm still not sure what I exactly want to be when I graduate. Maybe riding a bike to Alaska to beat cancer will help me figure that out.
Why I Ride
My older brother Domenic and I are twenty-two months apart, and he is my hero. Domenic is the strongest, funniest, most loving and most driven person I have ever met. His presence in my life is a significant one; we call and text every single day and he is the first person I go to whenever I am struggling or one of my friends needs boy advice. He has had a profound effect on me, and his life experiences are my life experiences.
I was thirteen and Domenic was fifteen when he started dating Micaela. Micaela was what every high school girl aspires to be: she was beautiful, smart, well-liked, a nationally ranked dancer. Domenic told me she was much more than all of that though – kind, selfless, his definition of “a perfect human.” She would come over to our house on occasion, and my whole family was completely charmed by her. But high school relationships come and go, and Domenic and Micaela ended things after a few months with no hard feelings.
It was Christmastime when we heard about Micaela’s diagnosis. Leukemia. It’s so bizarre to hear about cancer happening to someone you know, and it almost felt less scary, like obviously she was going to get through it and everything was going to be okay. It was impossible for me to imagine Micaela dying. She was just in our house, walking up our stairs, laughing with Domenic in our kitchen. She was going to be fine. And for a while, she was. Domenic kept in contact with her and was certain everything was going well. She had regular chemo and things were looking up. Then she had her seizure.
Two weeks away from predicted remission, Micaela suffered a severe seizure. Her body was so weak from the cancer and the chemo that it knocked her unconscious and she never woke up. Micaela was declared brain dead in August. Her parents took her off life support, and she died. It was horrible, but I had some distance from the situation. My brother didn’t. He grieved. It killed me to watch. I remember him sitting at my kitchen counter shortly after Micaela died, pleading to my mother. “It just doesn’t make any sense, Mom,” his fists were clenched, “If there’s a God, why would something like this happen? Why Micaela?”
When I decided to apply to this organization, I called Domenic, started telling him about my Texas 4000 app, and we were both reminded of Micaela. We’ve talked about her many times, but during this conversation, he told me something he’s never said before. “My biggest regret,” he said, “is not talking to her the day before she died. Micaela taught me that life is precious, and if you want to do something or you want to tell someone that you care about them, you have to do it right then and there, because tomorrow might not come.”
When I first heard about the Texas 4000, I was immediately enthralled – it’s the adventure of a lifetime. But it wasn’t until I heard about the mission that made up my mind that I have to do it. Life is short – sometimes much shorter than we plan – and we need to squeeze in as much as we can.
One of my favorite quotes ever is from the woman who founded my camp: “Our lives are like identical suitcases. They’re all the same, but some people can pack more into them than others.” Micaela’s suitcase was too small. I’m going to ride to Alaska and fight cancer for her. I’m going to squeeze in enough life for the both of us.
If you'd like me to dedicate my ride to anyone, please reach out via email. Cancer sucks, but with hope, knowledge, charity, and 4000+ mile bike rides, we can beat it.