- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
- School Year: Junior
- Major: Public Relations
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About: Hey reader! My name is Emily Gitten and I am originally from the Ft. Lauderdale, FL suburbs! Can't wait to start this crazy journey!
Why I Ride
When I started my freshman year at UT, I came to school with a single vision for how things on the 40 Acres were going to play out. Biking from Austin to Alaska was definitely not in those plans, but the world works in strange and funny ways, and now I couldn't imagine life without Texas 4000.
When people ask me how I am biking from Austin to Anchorage, I always have to correct them that it's not the how, but the why. My family has had a history with cancer for most of my life. When I was in elementary school my grandparents, Vera and Larry Gitten, were both diagnosed with cancer. It's awful enough watching one family member fight their battle, but watching two was something no one was prepared for. My grandparents are the definition of opposites attract. My grandpa was a ridiculously smart nerd and my grandmother is a social butterfly, but they loved each other more than anything and it showed. My grandparents tried their best to keep on living life to the fullest during their treatment. My dad would take us up to New Jersey for visits more often because we didn't know how much time we had left together, and my grandpa still managed to take us to Disney while battling cancer. I didn't understand exactly what it was that they were fighting. All I knew was that this bad thing called cancer was the reason why Grandpa was bald and why Grammy wore wigs now. I had no idea what they were struggling with or how intensely sick they were because all I knew was that they were sick, nothing else. My grandparents never let us knew that they were weak or that time was running out. In 2005, my grandfather passed away. Thankfully, Grammy is here with us today. My grandparents battling cancer together was the ultimate test in strength and support, and by biking to Alaska to honor them, I hope I can find that strength to make it through. Besides, Grammy is the only person I know who I can call after 10 p.m. and expect to pick up, and I'm going to want to keep her updated all the way there.
Losing a grandparent was tough, but I couldn't imagine losing a parent, sibling, or child to cancer. I ride for anyone who has lost someone close to their heart to cancer. I ride for all of those who have no one to remember them and honor their memory. I also ride for all of the kids who have battled cancer or are in treatment right now. You are the bravest people out there and I want to help find a cure sooner than later so no other child experiences the same.
Most importantly I ride for my teammates. We have all brought incredible stories of hope, strength, and resilience to the table and I can't wait to get to know y'all more throughout this process. You all welcomed me with open arms and I am proud to call you my family on campus. I can't make to Alaska without you.
To Alaska and back,