- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2018
- Hometown: Dallas, TX
- School Year: Junior
- Major: Biology
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Jacob Herstein and I'm a Junior Biology Major (BSA) and Hebrew Minor! I am pursuing a career in medicine, but in my free time I enjoy hiking, reading, and when possible, skiing. Everyone in my immediate family has gone to the University of Texas, so I really do bleed burnt orange. I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but I've spent most of my life in the great state of Texas!
Why I Ride
My maternal grandfather, Gustav Weiner, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in late 2011. Subsequently, my family relocated him to Dallas so that we could provide better care for him, only to discover that he also had prostate cancer and bladder cancer. As his health rapidly declined, he found joy in days reminiscent of his youth. When we all knew that he was on the brink of passing he away, he told my mother that he was ready to be with his father again. My mom asked how he wanted to be buried, and although he did not recognize my sister or me, and he barely remembered my mother, he did know one thing: he still had a “Jewish feeling,” and he wanted to have a proper Jewish funeral. It is because of my grandfather that I, Jacob Herstein, am riding to Alaska with Texas 4000. His identity, and the identity of all individuals that are ill, is the reason for my ride. Far too often, our loved ones are reduced to their sicknesses; we forget that they are our grandparents, cousins, family friends, and so on, and instead we view them just as patients. My grandfather’s statement that he still felt Jewish reminded me that he was not just a man with cancer and Alzheimer’s, he was my beloved “Grumpy Goose,” and one of the sweetest people I have ever known.
I intend to ride for the identities of cancer patients worldwide, simply because they are so much more than that. The millions of people with cancer are young children, mothers and fathers, doctors and lawyers, and real people with deep senses of self. My grandfather was not merely cancer, nor is anyone else that is suffering. Cancer does not define who you are, and I am excited to ride with Texas 4000 in order to spread that message. I want to show people across the United States that if we fight hard enough, we can help people conquer their cancer with an even greater sense of bravery and assuredness.
I also want to ride for my girlfriend Lexi’s grandfather, “Papa Phil.” While I only had the pleasure of meeting him in person on one occasion, I instantly knew that he was a gentle giant. Standing at 6’8, I thought he was invincible, but that vision was shattered when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had always known Lexi’s family to be so strong and supportive, yet even they struggled during his battle with cancer. The profound impact that his passing had on their family reminded me of the fragile balance between life and death, and watching them grieve together motivated me to appreciate everyone that I care about just a little bit more. The sad reality is, almost everyone on Earth has their own “Papa Phil” — they think that cancer will not affect their family until it strikes the strongest person in the worst possible way. I hope that by participating in Texas 4000 I will play a part in teaching individuals everywhere to be thankful for their loved ones while they are still here so that no one ever has to question what more they could have done or said to express their love.
Furthermore, since beginning college and having to answer the question, “What do you want to do with your life?” so frequently, I have come to the realization that I although I want to be a doctor someday, what I really want to do is help others live their lives to the fullest. I see Texas 4000 as an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of millions of lives; I aim to raise money and spread awareness so that our world might become cancer-free. Ultimately, I want to participate in this program so that someday soon people around the world will not have to ask, “What if it happens to me?” I hope to do anything and everything in my power, both in Texas 4000 and beyond, to ensure that people are optimistic about living happily and healthily rather than being afraid of something that they can hardly control.
I am aware that my involvement in Texas 4000 likely will not be the reason that we find the cure for cancer, but I still know in my heart that every little bit helps! I want my ride to be a reminder that even regular people can help end our battle with cancer once and for all.
Lastly, as a practicing Jew I often look to my religion for guidance, and I cannot help but think of a saying by Rabbi Avraham Kook when I think of the fight against cancer: “I don't speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don't have the power to remain silent.” At the core of every person there is a sense of responsibility for all human beings, and I know that Texas 4000 is my opportunity to act on that and build a better future.