• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2020
  • Hometown: New Orleans, LA

About: Hello! My name is Sophia DeSalvo, and I am a senior English Honors student at UT! I am originally from New Orleans, LA, but I spent most of my childhood and adolescence in Lafayette, LA. So, yes, I live for red beans and rice every Monday, gumbo in the fall, crawfish in the spring, and beignets (whenever I can get my hands on them).

My sophomore year of high school, my family and I moved to Frisco, TX, which is how I ended up at UT! Despite my roots in Louisiana, I feel I have found a home in Texas these past 6 years, and I could not be more thankful. On campus, I am a member of Texas Quidditch. Yes, Quidditch is real. No, we don't fly around on broomsticks, but if you happen to pass the Intramural Fields on a Friday night or Sunday morning, you will see me and about 20 other students running around with PVC pipes between our legs. Texas Quidditch has been an enormous part of my experience at UT, and I cannot thank the organization enough for providing me with a team and family to grow and compete with each day.

When I am not playing a fantastical sport, you can likely find me reading for my many English classes. And I wouldn't have it any other way. When I'm not reading or writing, I am hanging out with my roommates catching up on the latest reality TV show. Shoutout to Love Island and the Bachelor for providing such quality content.

Following my graduation from UT in May 2020, I am embarking on the amazing journey from Austin to Anchorage. There are still countless days before that 70 day, 4000+ mile journey begins, but I am more than ready to ride alongside my teammates fighting cancer every step of the way.

Why I Ride

It is the connection with my family that propels me to ride for Texas 4000. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, my grandmother was battling breast cancer. My nana is the smartest woman I know; she instilled in me a love for literature (which I still cherish to this day as an English major), but she also showed me firsthand the kind of strength and sense of humor that is needed to fight and beat this atrocious disease. Cancer has the ability to ravage families and eliminate all hope. I ride for the brave survivors and victims who have faced cancer and still found it in themselves and in their communities to remain hopeful. The battle against cancer can seem like an insurmountable one, but through this ride, I wish to provide the hope, knowledge, and charity necessary to alleviate pain and doubt in any and all people who come in contact with this terrible disease.

After graduation, I plan on attending law school. However, I have always been intrigued and attracted to the medical field and the completely selfless act of saving lives and providing care to those who need it most. In a way, I believe this is why I was so drawn to Texas 4000’s mission. I cannot help but feel so lucky to be able to participate in clinics and outreach to communities who are disproportionately affected by cancer. By providing the knowledge that can sometimes go unmentioned, we can combat this disease earlier and more effectively and, thus, save more lives. In addition, meeting survivors, victims, and family members is the kind of personal human connection that battling this disease warrants. It is not enough to educate; I want to be with and speak honestly with people who have been affected by cancer and offer myself and my ability to ride to them. We make great sacrifices for those that we love, and each and every person who faces cancer deserves that love and recognition. Even if it is from a complete stranger.

I ride for my dad. Because for as long as I have known him (so like, all my life), he has put my needs and wants above his own. While he has, thankfully, never been diagnosed with cancer, one of his greatest fears is that he will be - and that he will be taken away from my family as a result. Having seen his father and other family members and friends battle this disease, it has instilled in him a fear that, one day, he won’t be there to see me graduate. Or walk down the aisle. I ride for the hope that one day my dad doesn’t have to worry about cancer and what it could take away from him. My dad is my hero, and I don’t want cancer to ever stand in his way.