- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Houston, TX
- School Year: Sophomore
- Major: Biomedical Engineering
- Email: [email protected]
My name is Charlene, and I am currently a sophomore biomedical engineering (BME) student at the University of Texas at Austin. I was born and raised in Houston, TX with the kindest, most hard-working parents and the best older sister (shhh...don't tell her I said that). With my sister and older cousin being past longhorns, I grew up bleeding burnt orange and hooking 'em horns.
A few fun facts about me and things I love to do include being a big fan of the Houston Rockets and the Boston Celtics, going on hikes to watch the sun rise, and giving people hugs (pre-Covid of course)! I am also a member of my sorority Chi Omega, Best Buddies, and a Younglife/Wyldlife ministry leader for 6th grade girls.
I am really excited that you made it to my page, and I can't wait to bike from Austin, TX to Alaska! 4500 miles, here I come! :)
Why I Ride
I want to ride for my Aunt Josephine.
In the summer of my junior year of high school, family and friends gathered in Dripping Springs, Texas to celebrate the harmonious wedding of my Cousin Jason and his fiancé Pauline. Couple weeks after her only son was married, my Aunt Josephine was diagnosed with Stage IIA colorectal cancer. The simple and, what seemed at the time, trivial saying of “my back aches” turned into a whirlwind of two-years of chemotherapy. After a few months of the original diagnosis, the doctors informed us that the tests and CT scans showed that she had reached Stage IV of colorectal cancer and that the cancer cells had rapidly spread into her lungs and liver.
To hear that the most confident, joyful, strong, and religious woman I knew had cancer seemed impossible, and I, for a while, could not fathom the reality of the situation. My aunt meant a great deal to me, and she had been a constant rock in my family. When my family went through hardship, my aunt was the first person to offer help. She had always been an angel in our lives and blessed each and every one of us with her strength, kindness, wisdom, and love.
Upon seeing her conditions with my own eyes, I realized just how strong, resilient, and inspirational my aunt is. Despite chemotherapy, she still embraced her usual happy, bold, and full-of-live persona. Instead of mentioning her pain that we knew she experienced, she was more concerned if my sister and I have had enough food to eat or if we wanted a blanket. To be a witness to how she fought through the pain and did not give cancer the satisfaction of her anger inspires me to be as strong as she was.
This bike ride from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska is special to me because in the summer of 2015, my Aunt, along with my cousin, were the first people to teach me and my sister how to ride bikes. The crazy thing is that they taught us during a family reunion in...Alaska. Six years later, I see this ride as a sign from God to embark on a journey--where I can ride for her resiliency, strong spirit, and how she taught me the ways of the world.
Through my time in the Texas 4000, I aspire to not only carry my aunt’s hope but to also gain and share the stories of other cancer patients and survivors. Cancer is ruthless and does not discriminate. Individuals of various ages, genders, and sexual orientations are equally affected by the negative impacts of cancer. And I would love and be honored to ride for you or a loved one...for your memories, your stories, and for you. Please feel free to email me and/or personally let me know how I can ride for you or for a loved one!
With each mile that I pedal on the road to Anchorage, Alaska, I want to move cancer a mile back and away from hurting another. Through the vision of Texas 4000, I aim to help create a future where our world is cancer-free. And with your help (through either donation or simply sharing my page with others), we can take that first step to fighting cancer together.
To Alaska and Back,
"2 Corinthians 1:3-4"