- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Bedford, TX
- School Year: Sophomore
- Major: Environmental Science
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm Hannah, a second-year student here at UT! Someday you will see my photos adorning the pages of National Geographic, but for now I am still an undergrad earning my degree in environmental science with the hope of saving the planet. In addition to that, I am also pursuing a minor in visual media, hence the dreams of NatGeo. I have a consuming passion for photography, and my desire to pursue it as a career provided me the opportunity to travel to Prague, Czech Republic last summer to study documentary photography abroad, and it was insane, to say the least! Check out my daily blog from the trip here: https://hannahspragueblog.wordpress.com/
Although academia is wildly important, I do love things other than studying! I am also involved in Texas Spirits, the oldest and most wonderful spirit organization on campus. The group of girls that Spirits consists of is the most remarkable and inspiring collection of people I have met at UT. In pursuit of a photojournalism career, I am gaining experience photographing stories for the university newspaper, The Daily Texan. I also serve as a member on the student leadership panel of my honors program, Polymathic Scholars. This program allows students to invent their own field of study based on their own interdisciplinary interests, and as one can imagine, the folks in that program are some of the most intriguing that UT has to offer.
When I am not in a meeting for one of the aforementioned clubs, I am usually in my hammock with a good book, hiking a trail through one of Austin's many outdoor enchantments, or on a 5+ hour training ride preparing to pedal all the way to Alaska!
Why I Ride
This past October marked 6 years without Uncle Al. Although he is gone, I still see him in my everyday life. Uncle Al was the epitome of cool for me growing up. I never saw him without his gold peace sign necklace on, usually sporting a tee featuring a fancy dragon design and smoking a cigar. While sitting around the table for family game night, he had music on in the background and would periodically stop the commotion to quiz everyone on the artist and name of the song playing. When we would finally finish a game of Settlers, we would retire to the living room to jam out together. All the 60’s through the 90’s rock bands, anything from Seals and Crofts to Pure Prairie League, Uncle Al knew it all, and he could play it all just as well. I still have an album he and his buddy, Daniel, recorded under the duo name Ozone Patrol. He had a passion for music that he passed on to my sister and me that has shaped our appreciation for music and art throughout our lives. As a veteran, he had stories of war and knew the reality of life. There was an honesty he embodied that indicated he had faced a great deal of hardship. He always used to call me “fresh” and marveled over the fact that I was so young and free; he liked that I hadn’t been hardened, that the world hadn’t corrupted me yet.
I was in 7th grade when Uncle Al was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to his spine and eventually on to his brain. I didn’t get to see Al much during his treatment. I remember him getting a nasty cough that wouldn’t seem to go away, and being too tired to jam out anymore. Slowly but surely, cancer began to drain the personality from Al that made him so special.
After he was told that his cancer was terminal and given only a few months to live, Uncle Al made a donation to the Denton High School music program that included his life’s collection of music equipment, in hopes that it would spark the students’ passion for music. “I hope the kids have a desire to play,” he said, “They’ll find it.” This generous donation valued at $5000 was not out of character for Al; he was a giver all his life, who truly made an impact on everyone that was lucky enough to know him. To honor him, I have set my fundraising goal to $10,000 to double his contributions in hopes of conquering the disease that took him from us.
The cancer that Uncle Al had was not genetic, and was preventable. One of the pillars of Texas 4000 is knowledge and the biggest focus of my journey with this organization is to spread the knowledge of how cancer can be prevented so that fewer people must face fighting it.
In addition to Uncle Al, I also ride for his widow, Aunt Donna, who beat breast cancer after Al had already passed; Merle Timblin, a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, who won many fights before he lost to cancer; in honor of my grandpa Simon, the sweetest and strongest 92-year-old I have ever known, who donated his body to medical research when we lost him in 2013; and in support of one of my best friend’s father, Dallas Dobbs, who valiantly fought and beat stage 3b colon cancer this past year.
The progression of cancer is ugly; it beats down a person as well as their loved ones. The impact it has had on my life and those close to me is heartbreaking, and knowing that so many others have been through such heartache is devastating to me. Through Texas 4000, I hope to make a positive impact on the cancer fighting community and I am asking that you help me do so.
While I personally ride for these five people close to me, I want to also ride in honor and support of each of you and your loved ones who have been affected by cancer. Whether it is a monetary donation, a request to ride for someone, or words of encouragement, I would love to hear from you.
Thank you each, and all the best