• Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2021
  • Hometown: Houston, TX

About: My name is Ashwin Hareesh and I hail from the sultry paradise of Sugar Land, TX. At UT, I study Electrical Engineering and have a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas from the Jefferson Scholars program. I am also a proud member of Genesis, UT's vehicle for helping students achieve their greatest potential through entrepreneurship. At Genesis, I am the Student Lead of Internal Operations as well as a Venture Partner, where I specialize in social-impact startups.

In my free time, I absolutely love to read, volunteer, cook, meditate, train Olympic weightlifting, spend lots of time in nature, compost, and reduce my plastic consumption as much as possible.

Why I Ride

In high school, where I largely felt disconnected from the rest of my peers, Mrs. Badillo made me feel welcome. I was lucky to have her as my world geography teacher in 9th grade, and even more lucky to befriend her as the years go by. When she had twins, Zach and Liam, in my senior year of high school, I became immediately attached to them.

The world stopped when Zach was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia in the summer of 2018. Zach was not yet two years old at the time. There are no adjectives to describe the shock, horror, and devastation that I experienced that day. Cancer had always been on the periphery of my life—I truly never thought those I held dear would come under its grip. It was the injustice that really got to me. A child, with no moral culpability, being punished with one of the worst diseases on earth. He lost his hair, gained so much weight he was unable to walk, and underwent steroid-induced rages. The happy, calm, silly child we all loved was fighting for his life. Yet, that injustice accompanied a desire for culpability. Was his sickness caused by careless corporations using carcinogenic chemicals; was it a failure of our government; was it an act of God?

Thankfully, Zach is in remission now. He has a beautiful head of hair that naturally parts to the side (I think he looks like a movie star). He’s slimmed down to a normal weight, plays with his friends at school, and loves trucks. There is a future where children like Zach need not suffer through the horrors of leukemia treatment, where deaths like that of Joey, Zach’s friend at Texas Children’s Hospital, no longer happen, and where cancer treatment is smooth and effective.

No family affected by cancer should struggle alone. Each time we go to a city, we can share their burden for a little while. We will suffer together. We will also find hope together.

I'm Riding For:
Vidya Aunty