- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Sugar Land, Texas
- School Year: Graduate
- Major: Finance
- Email: [email protected]
My name is Alexander, but you can call me Alex! I’m a current Graduate student at the University of Texas studying Finance, and I’m from Sugar Land, Texas.
I come from a Big Fat Arab family (that was a reference to the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding—most of my family is actually in pretty good shape) who loves and supports me, and who I’m very grateful for. Some of my interests include singing, cooking, and watching reality television, and I’m really passionate about probiotic foods.
I’m a Leo, a middle-child, an optimist, and an extrovert, and I’m really excited to be involved with Texas 4000. Hook ‘Em—to Alaska and back!
Why I Ride
I ride in loving memory of my grandmother Amal, who was taken by skin cancer just a few years before I was born. As a kid when I’d first been introduced to the stories and memories of my grandmother, death had very little meaning to me. I remember feeling scared and anxious that those around me seemed sad when they spoke about her, but I couldn’t quite comprehend what it really meant. As I’ve grown however, I’ve come to understand the true meaning of death; its permanence, its magnitude, and the emotional toll that it can take on one’s family. But I’ve come to understand love a lot better too. I’ve learned that you can love even those who you haven’t met, just through photographs, stories, and memories. I ride because nobody should miss out on the opportunity to meet someone who they love because of cancer. I ride because of the legacy that my grandmother left behind, and because I love my grandmother.
I also ride because I believe in science. Every day, cancer research centers come closer and closer to finding a cure—and there’s so much they’ve already accomplished. Just in the past few years, they’ve begun to develop technology to detect cancerous cells much sooner, they’ve created more targeted drugs and treatments to replace chemotherapy, and they continue to do so much more to lessen the immense burden cancer can have on those directly affected and on their families. But these breakthroughs are only possible because of the brilliant minds behind them. I ride because I believe in science, but more importantly, I ride to support those who work hard to fight cancer in their everyday lives—the doctors, scientists, and researchers that support all of us in the fight against cancer.
I ride because I'm grateful. I'm grateful for my health, and for the health of those that I love, and I refuse to wait for someone that I immediately know or love to be diagnosed with cancer before I decide to do something about it. A friend of mine once told me: “You don’t deserve anything that you have if you’re not grateful for it.” Cancer is a disease that can affect any person at any time; and it is because I acknowledge how fortunate I am to be cancer-free that I choose to ride.
Lastly, I ride to provide hope. When I first joined Texas 4000, I was asked to reflect on our three "pillars": Hope, Knowledge, and Charity.
I remember thinking: Knowledge. That definitely makes sense! Through our programs and presentations that we give at hospitals and schools throughout the route, we educate communities on things like early cancer detection signs and healthcare disparities. It's measurable.
Similarly, I was able to understand our pillar of Charity clearly as well. The money that we raise has a value, and we transfer that value to pay for cancer research development and support services. It all seemed pretty sensical.
Our pillar of Hope didn't make as much sense to me. It seemed very abstract to me at the time; how was I going to really help people who are going through something as incredible as cancer by spreading something as intangible as hope?
I ride for this team because they helped me answer that question. Their stories have upset me, touched me, and stuck with me in a way that has been both so heavy and so beautiful. I've learned what it means to empathize, and what it means to listen. I've learned what it means to fight extremely hard, to overcome, and that to be a source of hope for others can be incredibly meaningful.
I'm six days away from our ride's start date as I write this, and I can now say that hope has become our most important pillar to me. I understand that there's tangible value in spoken words, in sharing emotions, and in serving as a source of inspiration to the very people that I draw my own inspiration from. I'm six days away from our ride's start date, and above all things this summer, I'll be riding for hope.