- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Austin, TX; Fukuoka, JP
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Chemical Engineering
- Email: email@example.com
My name is Daisy April Holland—Daisy like the flower, April like the month I was born in, and Holland like the country (though it’s officially known as the Netherlands). I was born in and spent my childhood in Fukuoka, Japan, where my parents owned and operated a gaijin bar—a nightclub geared towards foreigners. My father is English, hailing from a town called Church Stretton, and my mother is Japanese-American, originally from suburban Los Angeles. Both of my parents were entrepreneurial risk-takers who left their hometowns for Japan and strived to define their lives by experiences.
As a result, my childhood was highly characterized by adventure. With tied loyalties to England, America, and Japan, my family spent a lot of time traveling between these three countries. My parents were unafraid to try new things, and we spent short stints living in California, England, and even Australia. Eventually we moved to Austin, Texas when I was in the fifth grade and I have lived here ever since.
Without a doubt, my parents and three younger siblings have shaped me into the person I am today. Our family dynamic encouraged a mindset of finding the humor in the most trying situations, assuring each other during rough times that “This’ll be a good laugh later on…” Additionally, because of my father’s influence, I am highly passionate about music. My dad was determined to teach his children the best of British rock and pop music, routinely playing The Cure, The Clash, Oasis, and The Smiths during family breakfasts. To this day, there is nothing that can ease my mind better than a good song.
Outside of my upbringing, my life has been most heavily defined by my interests, most of which are the same hobbies I pursued as a child. Like many Japanese children, I learned to ride a unicycle at age five and have been riding ever since. I also enjoy creating digital art, exercising, camp counseling, and studying crime. At the University of Texas, I mainly dedicate myself to philanthropy work. I currently serve as the Philanthropy Director for Texas Spirits and on the service committee for Texas Orange Jackets. These two organizations, in addition to Texas 4000, have allowed me to grow as a budding philanthropist while making friendships that will last a lifetime.
Why I Ride
The first time someone asked me why I ride, I had a difficult time answering straightforwardly.
Not because I didn’t have an answer. But because I knew my reasons were quite different from those of other teammates. For many riders, the “Why I Ride” question is more a question of “Who do you ride for?” However, despite my involvement with Texas 4000 for Cancer, I do not have any personal connection to this terrible disease.
For me, it starts with a tattoo.
About three years ago, upon a reevaluation of my own values, I wrote the word “OTHERS” in marker on my left hand for the first time. Ever since, I have rewritten the word every day—a ritual that has become my life mission: to be a positive and conscientious presence in the lives of others. Over the years, this simple quasi-tattoo has come to acquire alternate meanings, each of which includes the word “others” in its statement:
1. To think of the well-being of others.
2. To understand and listen to the stories and perspectives of others.
3. To take control of one’s ability to help others.
It is difficult for me to explain how writing this one word every day changed my life. I was quite naturally self-centered as a child and later as an adolescent. Forcing myself to write this word across my knuckles each day caused me to become highly aware of my own selfishness. It is what drove me to pursue volunteer work, to later take an interest in philanthropy, and eventually decide to shave my head for cancer research in the spring of 2016. When I finally shaved my head that spring after months of fundraising, a lot of people asked me why I did it. And my reply was automatic: “Because I can.”
It was true. I was literally shaving my head because I could—because I was able to decide whether or not to have hair, unlike the thousands of cancer patients who were denied that decision. By choosing to be bald, I wanted to stand for cancer patients who didn’t get control over whether or not they had hair.
This mindset—centered on the concept of control—stemmed from a particularly rocky semester during the first half of my sophomore year. During that time, I unintentionally focused on things that were out of my control. I’d worry incessantly about a grade after taking a test, overanalyze everything directed towards me, and lose sleep over what other people thought of me. With that mindset, my life seemed to be out of my hands. When winter break came around after the semester ended, I vowed to never again solely focus on the things I couldn’t control, and instead focus on the things I could do. I started thinking about people with cancer, who didn’t get control over their own hair loss, much less their own health and I wanted to do something to honor their fight. I couldn’t (and still can’t) imagine how difficult it must be to carry on living while battling a disease that rids you of control over your own health. When I set out to raise $3,000 by shaving my head, my motive was not only to exercise my ability to help others, but to honor those who were truly brave: cancer patients who had fought or were currently fighting battles they couldn’t predict the outcomes of.
While all three of the “others” statements I listed earlier were integral in my decision to join Texas 4000, the third one was what really pushed me to go for it. It is this drive to take control of my ability to help others that inspires me to ride my bike across America in the fight against cancer. As an able-bodied, healthy, UT student with the opportunity of a lifetime to make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer, I cannot pass up the chance to apply to become not only a rider, but an agent of change determined to see cancer cured. I’ve learned that you can’t control everything in life because life likes to throw curveballs, but right here, right now, I have the opportunity to ride to Alaska in the fight against cancer—and I know I have to give it my best shot. In doing Texas 4000, I am riding to not only take advantage of my personal ability to contribute to a cause, but to also inspire other people to exercise their ability to help others—cancer related or not.