- Route: Rockies
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Austin, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Environmental Science
- Email: [email protected]
About: Hey there, my name is Dana (“dah-nah”) and you are awesome for learning more about our mission. I oftentimes like to share my gratitude with the world, so here's a taste of what makes me feel most alive: my inner mountain goat in hyper-focus during a trail run, deep conversations around a campfire to connect with others, the presence that comes with paddling a river, exploring a new side of town accompanied by a podcast sharing its storytelling with me, kombucha in my hand while expressing cheers, and biking up a steep hill surrounded by supportive teammates. I want to give a shout-out to my three older brothers, who have taught me what it means to be tough, my amazing parents for inspiring me to challenge myself from a young age, and Mother Earth for the curiosity she has instilled in me.
Why I Ride
Cancer does not distinguish between the people it targets. It has a lasting impact on many lives and the community formed as a result of it is very strong. Texas 4000 allows me to connect with a variety of individuals and grow from unleashing a shared sense of vulnerability experienced throughout hardship. It is a privilege to have the choice to ride, as I am carried by the strength exemplified by those battling illnesses.
My father has fair skin and has had a lot of sun exposure over the years. He is informed about the implications of cancer and routinely goes to the dermatologist to check for pre-cancerous marks on his body, a habit that he takes very seriously as a result of the personal impact of seeing his father’s one mole develop into deadly melanoma. This spread of knowledge is what I am most passionate in developing, so that the education that I have come to value immensely can help prevent the impact of this disease.
I ride for my saba (grandfather), David, who passed away from skin cancer when my father was 18 years old. I think about how this is a common occurrence and that people have to cope with losing loved ones that provide support to their lives. I never got to meet David and make connections with him, but what if he got that mole checked in time before the cancer spread to the rest of his body? No one deserves to have to lose someone special to cancer.
I ride for Uri, my other saba who lost his battle to lung cancer when I was 3 years old. My mother sometimes tells me about how much he suffered during his last few months of life. However, despite the pain, my saba always lit up whenever he got to hold me or one of my siblings. Losing both of my grandfathers to cancer fuels my desire to educate others about prevention and to take action within the resilient cancer community.
I ride to move my body with intention, similarly to my co-op housemate from Australia, Abhi. I immediately connected with him after he told me that he was training to swim the 33 km-long English Channel. He was diagnosed with a rare form of tongue cancer when he was only 22 years old, then underwent surgery to remove ⅓ of his tongue and replace it with tissue from his hip. All of the lymph nodes were taken out from the right side of his neck and he had to relearn how to drink, eat, and speak again. All of a sudden, his life was altered and he had to drop out of university to focus on healing. During his process of training to swim the English Channel, he raised $22,000 for Canteen, which is a support service in Australia for youth who are affected by cancer. Abhi taught me that the future is uncertain and how powerful it is to use my capabilities to grow.
I ride for all of those who can’t because I appreciate that my body is healthy. I am grateful for things that I occasionally take for granted, such as my ability to move, breathe, and feel on my own, which will allow me to bike 4000 miles. I ride to expand knowledge, honor cancer patients, give them hope, and to one day overpower the disease that has affected so many, one pedal stroke at a time.
Please send rider dedications to [email protected] and I will be sure to include them in my journey.