- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2021
- Hometown: Athens, TX
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Mechanical Engineering
- Email: [email protected]
Hi! I’m honored, humbled, and beyond excited to be joining the fight against cancer with Texas 4000. Thank you for following my journey and for your support!
My name’s Lauren and I am majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a passion for renewable energy and the environment. While I’m a “STEMinist" at heart, I also love reading science fiction and learning French. I grew up in Athens - not Greece, but a small East Texas town with rolling hills, some killer sunsets, and backroads that make you want to listen to music with your car windows down. I’m the favorite (and sole) daughter of Sue and Jay - two of the most active and hardworking people I know. I also have an older brother, Travis, who goes by “Trav” now that he moved to San Diego and has really leaned into the SoCal culture. My family and I are outnumbered 4 to 10 by our four legged animals, which include 5 horses, 3 dogs, and 2 donkeys. While Athens is my hometown, Austin is my home. You can most likely find me at Zilker, SoulCycle or on Zoom. My go-to snack is an apple w/ peanut butter and my favorite Spotify playlist is filled with throwback 2000’s songs that I play far too often.
Romans 5:3 says, "Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."
Why I Ride
My first “why” and a major reason I decided to apply to Texas 4000 is Jennifer Lamance, my fifth-grade teacher. Jennifer was smart and her sense of humor lit up any room she walked into. She was personable, making it a point to coin nicknames for each of her students just so they felt special. She was encouraging, instilling in us each day that we could do whatever we set our minds to. She was hilarious. April Fool’s was a national holiday in her classroom. While fifth grade was nearly a decade ago, I still remember the comforting hugs I got when I face-planted after jumping off the swings when they were a little too high. I remember how she made others felt too. I was not the unique one; she made everyone around her feel a little better about life. While I was in high school, Jennifer was diagnosed with colon cancer. The day before my high school graduation, she was placed in hospice and passed on June 8, 2017. She left behind two kids: Madison and Tyler. I ride for Jennifer, her family, and everyone who knew her.
I ride for Dana Brawley. I knew Dana from the “horse-world”, as equestrians know it as. I grew up showing horses on the Hunter/Jumper circuit. Since a kid, I saw Dana and her husband Bob nearly every weekend while traveling across the country. Not only was she a fierce competitor, but a loving mom to her son Lucas and a loyal friend to those around her. Dana recently passed from cancer in December 2019. I ride for Dana, her family, and Brawley Farms.
I ride for Jim Taylor. Jim was the dad of one of my best friends growing up, Kayleigh (aka KK). He was also our horses’ vet. It was evident in his actions how much he cared about his work, family, and Christ. He passed away from skin cancer during KK and I's freshman year of college. I ride for Jim, KK, their family, and any Auburn fan.
I ask myself why I’m riding my bike to Alaska often. There are a few reasons that immediately come to the surface - Jennifer Lamance, Dana Brawley, Jim Taylor: all people whose lives were taken far too soon by cancer. I look at the families they left behind and all the life they had yet to live. It is hard to not be angry at the unfairness in the world. Initially, I thought riding my bike 4500+ miles for cancer research would somehow balance the scale. However, during my time in Texas 4000, my “why” has evolved.
Most people wouldn’t even think of driving to Alaska from Austin, let alone hopping on a bike and pedaling the whole way there. Yet, Texas 4000 has consistently proven that a team of people with heart, grit, and a consistent mindset can achieve the crazy, outlandish, daunting goals that seem “impossible”. I ride to honor every battle against cancer that seemed “impossible”. I ride to spread hope to cancer patients, survivors, and their families. I want to see, hear, encourage, sit with and support them. I ride to raise funds and spread knowledge so that one day we can live in a world without cancer, a world in which the scale is a little more balanced.
Lastly, I ride for you. Whether you are a stranger who stumbled upon my page, a family member, friend, or one of my teammates, I ride for you. We all have had someone in our lives affected by cancer. I would love to hear your stories. If there is someone specific I can dedicate my ride to, please fill out my short Google survey linked here: bit.ly/WhyLTRides . Through every rain storm and mountain pass, I’ll be riding for them.
To Alaska and back,
Ride dedications (ongoing):
-Gilbert, Carolina's dad
-Lilian, my teammate