- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Austin
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Mathematics
- Email: [email protected]
Hey everyone! My name is Wade Smith, and I am a senior at Texas studying mathematics. I was born and raised here in Austin, and I couldn't have asked for a better place to grow up in. Along with my dad, Les, and my mom, Susie, I have two twin sisters (Audrey and Laine), and together they make up my awesome family.
I began my college journey at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. During that time, I was a mechanical engineer by morning, walk-on quarterback by afternoon (and most times into the night). I cherished and still keep in touch with the friends I made in my time there, but I decided to transfer home to UT during the middle of my sophomore year. After a semester of struggles and adversities, I finally found my social stride during junior year by becoming a member of Texas 4000 for Cancer and a founding member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. I am also a St. David's Neal Kocurek Scholar, which is a scholarship program that is given to students working towards a degree that can apply to the healthcare field. I started as an engineer hoping to one day design prosthetic limbs, but I have since shifted to a math major hoping to get involved in the business administration side of healthcare. The path is still a little unclear, but I know that whatever I do will be geared towards helping as many people I can in any way.
I'm a pretty easy-going, relaxed, and happy guy who is passionate about the outdoors and all the activities that stem from it. Nothing gets me more excited than hiking, camping, kayaking/canoeing, surfing, and (soon to be) biking, and I am eager to travel the country and the world to pick out the best places to do each and every one of these things! I love music, all sports, movies, TV shows, Settlers of Catan, and spending quality time with the people I love. Here's to an amazing experience with Texas 4000!
Why I Ride
When I went to SMU after being capped from UT, I was shocked, and I hated the thought of being in Dallas because I believed it wasn’t the way things were supposed to be. But on the second day of school, I ran into Ryan-Cole, and everything began to shift.
Ryan-Cole and I went to different high schools, but we used to be church buddies back in middle school. We were good friends, but our friendship deepened when he was diagnosed with leukemia in sixth grade. It was very serious, so serious that doctors did not expect him to survive. Ryan-Cole was a pro at hiding his pain; every time I saw him, his smile was radiant, and he always had something fun to talk about. He was so good at it that I didn’t understand how much pain he was really in until we talked years later. From the day we reconnected at SMU until the day I transferred, my admiration of Ryan-Cole grew exponentially. Ryan-Cole is cancer free, and he inspires me every single day. I saw his focus and determination to his studies, for he hopes one day to become a doctor. I saw him thrive socially, so much that he couldn’t go to the library without striking up conversation with every other person. And best of all, I got to see him define his identity with cancer long in the past. All throughout middle and high school, everyone knew him as the kid with cancer. But at SMU, I learned that he only told a very small group of people. His triumph is silent, and people have the chance to know Ryan-Cole without cancer clouding his image.
Now that I am back at UT with a chance at Texas 4000, I have an entirely new perspective on why I ride and who I ride for. I will ride not only for Ryan-Cole, but for my teammates and those they ride for. There are countless stories of triumph and defeat when it comes to cancer, and I am fortunate to be close to someone who has beat cancer. But for many of my teammates, friends, and community members, that may not be the case, and the ones they love who have been affected by cancer may not have been successful like Ryan-Cole. These people will be in my heart and mind as a member of Texas 4000, no matter where I am. I am thankful for the opportunity to share my passion and raise awareness of cancer to members of my community in hopes that people can come together on their own ride towards a cure.