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

About: Hello! My name is Katherine Jones and I am so excited and honored to say that I will be biking from Texas to Alaska in the summer of 2020!

I was born and raised in Austin, Texas (yes I am a real Austinite) and moved a whopping 12 miles to come to study at UT! I am currently pursuing a Master's of Public Health at UTHealth Science Center in Austin! I'm very passionate about bringing a public health mindset of prevention-based treatment to the healthcare industry!

My favorite things in the world include my pets, the great outdoors, running, Texas sunsets, warm weather, and queso! Approximately 99% of the pictures on my phone are of my pets (a tiny dog and multiple semi-hairless cats) and I love to show them off to everyone! One of my biggest goals in the next few years is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and to race in the Boston Marathon! I live by the quote "Ain't Life Grand?" and try to do things that scare and thrill me in life because I want to live my life to the fullest and without any regrets.

If you have any questions about me, my story, or if you would like to talk to me about why I am riding to Alaska, please feel free to contact me!

Why I Ride

Cancer is defined as a disease (or class of diseases) of mutations in our DNA, leading to uncontrollable cell division throughout the area and surrounding tissues. Yet when we think of cancer as a whole, it is so much more than this. Cancer seeps into every aspect of a life and our society. It can be viewed from many different lenses- biological, public health, environmental, medical, social, economic, etc.- and with each one, it can be concluded that cancer is a plague to life and our understanding of what it means to be alive. I ride for a future in which this isn't the case- in which all cancer research is funded equitably and we can work to decrease disparities in care and life-saving medical assistance.

I am riding for my high school environmental science teacher, Nicole Vohl. Mrs. Vohl was diagnosed with a stage 3 Astrocytoma brain tumor in 2013 and continued to fight this tumor and teach for the next 3 years. Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, we watched as the cancer continued to progress and her draining battle with the effects of the radiation and chemotherapy Mrs. Vohl passed away at the age of 39 on July 24th, 2016, but in the 39 years she was here, she made such an impact on every life she touched. I have never encountered anyone as brave and as passionate as her and she still inspires me to be a better person in life as I truly have never met someone as strong as her. I ride in memory of Mrs. Vohl and to honor the wonderful legacy she left behind for her family. The “hope” aspect of Texas 4000 resonates with everything Mrs. Vohl stood for. She fought a hard fight for three years and had so much hope for herself, her family, and her students. She was one of the teachers who cultivated my love for science, and I am honored to have been taught by such an inspiring individual.

I ride for my paternal grandmother, MeeMaw, who passed away from breast cancer, and my maternal grandmother, Grammy, who fought both colon and lung cancers. I ride for the pain, heartbreak, and loss that cancer brings to families when it takes away the people we love the most.

I ride for ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and everyone whose lives have been tormented by these diseases. In April 2020 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and my world was shattered in a matter of months. I went from a healthy and physically able young adult to living in the body that could not even support me. I lost the ability to do the things that I love, I was weighed down by the burden of my disease, and I will be reliant on medication for the rest of my life. But most importantly, I lost hope. Hope seems impossible when the you know that a cure will not be found tomorrow, the next day, or in the foreseeable future. It took me a while to realize that hope doesn't come from the promise of a better tomorrow and the unrealistic expectations that every day will be perfect. Hope comes from the deepest pits of your life and the strength and tenacity it takes to crawl out of them. Hope comes from making it through your hardest points and understanding that yes life is hard, but these hard points are what defines you and makes you who you are. I ride for a cure for ulcerative colitis and for a future in which others won't have to endure the pain I face each day. And above all, I ride for hope.

Here's to all of us finding our own Alaska and doing the things that make us feel whole again.