• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2020
  • Hometown: Corpus Christi, TX

About: My name is Sophie Susser and I am a senior here at UT. I have wanted to do T4K since I first learned about it freshman year and I am so excited and honored to be on the team! Outside of T4K, I am an active member of my sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and a member of a finance program called Wall Street For McCombs. In my downtime, I can be found at a yoga studio, listening to podcasts, or jogging through Pease Park. I enjoy personality quizzes, late 90s / early 2000s music, and dark chocolate.

I am the lucky daughter of my parents, Catherine and Sam, and the older sister to two lucky little brothers, Sammy and Eli. Our family includes a poodle puppy, three cats, and the occasional exchange student. I wouldn't be here without the support of my family and friends, and I am so grateful and excited to be on the 2020 team.

Why I Ride

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things an individual can go through, yet, due to cancer or otherwise, it is an aspect of the human experience that touches everybody at some point in their lifetime.

My first experience with loss happened when I was 13 years old. My childhood best friend, Katie Marsh, lost her life to a brain aneurysm the summer before we started seventh grade. At the time, her father was fighting brain cancer, which had been very difficult for Katie and her family. When my mom picked me up from summer camp to tell me the news, at first I was afraid that something had happened to Mr. Marsh. I couldn’t believe it was my best friend, who, at 13 years old, lost her life in the span of an afternoon.

Losing Katie gave me a deeper understanding of death and shaped the way I felt when cancer began to impact my life. In high school, I lost my grandfather to melanoma and my neighbor and good friend, James, to pediatric osteosarcoma. A few years later, my Uncle Chip lost his fight to glioblastoma, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. It is because of all of these people that I have been inspired to pedal my way from Austin, TX to Anchorage, AK.

I ride for Katie and for James, whose lives were too short, and both impacted by cancer in different ways. I ride for my mom, who supported her parents through the realities of melanoma. I ride for my dad, who now lives without his best friend, my Uncle Chip. I ride for the amazing doctors, nurses, and researchers at MD Anderson, Driscoll, and Texas Children’s Hospital, all of whom were so dedicated to treating those I love. I ride for hope, because a cancer diagnosis is scary, and it can make the lives of those it impacts feel helpless in comparison. Texas 4000 empowers me because it allows me to make a difference in the face of a powerful and complex disease.

My friend James, who was diagnosed with bone cancer at age 13, stands out as a person who refused to be powerless in the face of cancer. James battled cancer for seven years and dedicated his fight to spreading awareness and offering support to children fighting cancer. Today, his foundation (Triumph Over Kid Cancer, or just TOKC) is still working in his memory, funding research for pediatric orphan cancers (rare cancers that are underfunded). Through TOKC, I have also had the privilege of getting to know several pediatric cancer patients who carry on James’ legacy. I ride for the kids who go from elementary school to chemotherapy, and their siblings and parents whose lives turn upside-down after one doctors’ visit. James went through his chemotherapy and several surgeries with grace, and used the time he had to serve others. I have been particularly motivated to do T4K because of James and his family, who are making a positive difference in the face of a terrible challenge. The courage James had when he was 20, in the most difficult time of his disease, has inspired me to spend my twentieth year on this adventure in his honor.

I often think about how lucky I am to be here—alive and healthy, in college (hook 'em!), with so many things to look forward to. I feel a sense of duty to live my life to the fullest, and I ride in honor of those who have touched my life and led me to Texas 4000.

Thank you for learning a little bit about me and why I ride! Any contribution, large or small, would mean so much to me and will make a difference in the fight against cancer. Please reach out to me if you would like me to dedicate my ride to your loved ones, and let me know how I can best honor them.