- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Houston, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Biomedical Engineering
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About: Houston is my current and forever home, but much of my childhood was spent growing up in California and Oregon. My family consists of two incredibly supportive parents, a nagging yet loving sister, a closed-off brother (I’m trying to pry him open), and a bratty chihuahua-terrier mix. I am a first-generation college student, and I am a senior studying Biomedical Engineering here at UT. This university has given me the opportunity to connect with individuals from a variety of backgrounds with different interests. I hope to use my degree and my passion to impact lives in my future career.
Why I Ride
Love is crazy. The idea that one shared laugh can blossom into eight years of friendship. The thought that you would give up anything — and I mean anything in this world — for one person’s happiness. The fact that the most important individual in your life makes you feel so secure and content with who you are in this very moment. I ride to preserve the beauty of these human connections. I ride for love.
Growing up, I was exposed to many instances of cancer in the lives of those around me. Both of my grandmothers had breast cancer and underwent mastectomies to cure the cancer almost instantly. They were both lucky enough not to endure further stages of cancer or chemotherapy. I failed to recognize the severity of cancer at this stage in my life because it seemed so benign. I overlooked the fact that both my grandmothers mentally struggled through their time with cancer. They feared death, were ashamed of losing their breasts, and struggled to feel less of a burden to those around them. I ride for those that are mentally and emotionally drained by cancer.
On the last day of my junior year of high school I got a phone call from my best friend. In the calmest tone possible, she told me her father committed suicide. Little did I know that her father was suffering from colon cancer for approximately six months. He was a man that carried himself with such joy and sarcasm. He was our chauffeur throughout the beginning of high school from dinner at Collina’s to concerts at Warehouse Live, and he never once complained. Even while single-handedly raising two incredible and inspirational daughters, the pain and suffering of cancer broke his reality. Cancer drove him to reach levels of depression and suffering that I hope to see no one endure. His death caused my best friend to suffer in ways I did not realize were possible for someone so positive and adventurous. After years of self-discovery and building a new life, she is the strongest individual I know, and I mean that. I ride for those who lose themselves to cancer.
My father chewed tobacco for approximately 30 years of his life. During that time, I was the real-life tobacco warning commercial who never failed to pester him about dying from tobacco consumption. In June of 2015, my father was diagnosed with mouth cancer. I feared his death. I feared that the man who made me feel so secure and content in this world was slipping through my fingers. This was the cancer that seeped in for me. Watching my father’s joy slowly drain from his body made me hopeless. How was I supposed to stay strong when the strongest man, who killed every cockroach for me and yelled at me for failing my driver's test twice, was losing himself? After a long battle with our insurance company and switching between doctors, my father was finally admitted into surgery to remove his tumor. He went through several surgeries after that, along with chemotherapy and radiation. Today, he is cancer free. He is not the same man he was before, but he has a second chance. I may have no idea when he will be positive enough to love life to the fullest again or when looking in the mirror will not be a reminder of his battle with cancer, but I do know that he is trying his best. I am here for him and he is here for me. I ride for those who are given second chances.
Cancer has such a negative connotation in our world. We relate it to the end to a life, but death is just one step of it. Cancer is destructive to the body, and it overpowers the mind. Cancer has also allowed many individuals to realize the love that surrounds them. Cancer has shaped me and shown me how life can be oh-so-difficult yet rewarding at the same time. Cancer has made me question the purpose of life and what path I am taking. Cancer has made me grow for the better. Cancer is destructible, and as a society, we can push through research and innovation to find a cure. We must keep hope. After all, hope is what keeps us going. I ride to keep this hope in everyone I encounter on my journey. I ride to spread the cancer stories I have learned and to fight for those that have suffered.
I ride for the beauty of life and feeling connected.