- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Houston, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Neuroscience
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why I Ride
I ride for the kids at Camp Kesem, a student-run, non-profit organization that supports children with a parent diagnosed with cancer. One of the ways Camp Kesem provides support is through an overnight summer camp where these kids not only have an opportunity to just be kids again, but are also shown that they have an entire community around them who understands their unique situation. Over the past two summers, I have had the opportunity to serve as a counselor for Camp Kesem. To me, Camp Kesem is so much more than just a summer camp. It is a family and a support system, but most of all – it’s magic.
When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is affected. I’ve truly been able to see this through my experiences and interactions with my campers. Every year, the stories that they share never fail to shock me. Many of them have lost parents to cancer. Others have parents who are running out of treatment options. Some of our teenagers work part time jobs to help pay for their family’s bills and take on the responsibility of caring for their younger siblings. The last day of camp is often feared by our campers because they return to a home filled with uncertainty and worry.
Every single one of our campers is unquestionably strong. Despite all of the suffering and grief they have experienced, they never lose their innocence. As a stranger walking into Camp Kesem, you would never suspect what these kids have been through. From the second they wake up, our campers are raring to go and play. Give them the option to take an hour nap, they will reject it and just continuing playing. Sit with them for lunch, and somehow you will end up in a no-hands eating contest. Despite the lifeguard’s “no pushing” warnings, you somehow still end up being pushed into the part of the lake that just happened to have most algae on it. Best of all, give a camper a smile, and they will light up your world. Their smiles are brighter and their laughter is louder than your average kid because as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “only in the darkness can you see the light” – only in trying times can you fully appreciate the good in life.
I also ride in memory of Mrs. Gardy, whose wisdom echoes in my family’s hearts, and mí tía Laurita, who left three beautiful children way too soon.
My journey to Alaska is for those who have gone through cancer and lost their battle, for the children who have seen their parents go through cancer and still maintain their innocence, but most of all, I ride so that their situations are no longer repeated.