• Route: Sierra
  • Ride Year: 2021
  • Hometown: Austin

About: Hello! My name is Grace Ann Hornfischer and I am junior at UT studying Plan II and journalism. As a native Austinite, I spend a lot of my free time running at town lake and enjoying Zilker park. I also love to cook, explore the endless depths of Spotify, and spend time with my friends, family and two springer spaniels.

Why I Ride

Inspiring hope and fostering community are the two primary reasons that I will be riding my bike to Alaska and joining the fight against cancer.

Hope is essential when combating any hardship, but especially an illness like cancer. An organization I volunteer with, the Make-A-Wish foundation, bases their mission on the proven physical benefits of maintaining hope when combating illnesses. My family is particularly clinging to hope right now. Starting off 2020 on a sour note, my dad was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiform, one of the most aggressive forms of cancer that begins in the brain. This news came as an absolute shock to my family. My dad is one of my biggest supporters and he and I are strangely similar. We bond over how much we have in common from our way of thinking about complex problems to our music taste and how we order at restaurants. Without consulting one another, we consistently order the same exact dish all the way down to the salad dressing dressing and sides. My main source of hope for my dad is that he is a natural born fighter. As a military historian, he writes about courageous heros for a living and has made a point to channel that energy throughout his treatment. He views his tumor as an invading force and is determined to wipe it out. Referencing his favorite trilogy of all time, The Lord of the Rings, my dad frequently says to his tumor, “You shall not pass!” His attitude will be instrumental in successfully beating this thing, and it has given everyone around him so much hope. I am dedicating my bike ride to Alaska to my dad. Biking around Austin has always been one of our favorite father-daughter activities, and so this journey is truly a tribute to him.

The community that is formed around fighting cancer is another reason that I joined Texas 4000. Each of us has the strength to bear our unique circumstances, but it often takes others to help us realize it. I have seen the positive effects of community after the deaths of my great aunt Lum and my uncle Mark. My dad’s aunt passed away from pancreatic cancer a few years ago. I have always been inspired by Lum’s ceaseless passion for life. It amazed me even more when her passion remained in the midst of a terminal form of cancer. Aunt Lum passed away within six months of her diagnosis, but up until the end, she continued to make breakfast for her family and send out encouraging updates. She was always more concerned about the community around her because she knew they needed to be strong for one another when she was gone.

My Uncle Mark passed away from gallbladder cancer two years ago. My uncle’s death was sudden, and I could see how much it affected my aunt and mom. They wouldn’t have been able to grieve properly without their siblings and the community of people who loved my uncle by their side. Stories hold so much power. The people we lose live on in our memories, and those memories grow stronger the more that we share them with others. The stories shared about my aunt and uncle not only contributed to their legacy, but it also spread a common hatred for cancer and a passion for finding a cure. In addition to my dad, I am riding for my great aunt Lum and my uncle Mark on behalf of my parents.

I want to encourage people to live their lives boldly and with hope, no matter their circumstances. Whether it be from the physical limitations of an illness or any number of other hardships, I aim to continue encouraging individuals to fight for freedom. Because freedom is attainable when hope remains.