• Route: Smoky-mountains
  • Ride Year: 2021
  • Hometown: Houston, TX

About: I am a junior Plan II and Neuroscience major from Houston, TX. I was born in Mumbai, India, and raised in 7 countries on 4 continents. I love volunteering at Special Cheers Occupational Therapy Centre in my hometown, watching Grey's Anatomy, travelling with my family, and taking mid-afternoon naps.

Why I Ride

I come from a family of doctors in which education is valued above everything else. My nani (maternal grandmother) was born in a time when India wasn’t free but, against all odds and most societal constructs, she became a surgeon in the 60’s while also single-handedly raising three children (who all went on to become physicians, as well). My nani performed the caesarean on my mother to deliver me in a small hospital in Mumbai, India. Her inspiring life story, and countless accomplishments in the face of adversity, makes her my role model. Last year, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thankfully, her cancer was caught early, before it had left the thyroid capsule, and was removed with surgery. Growing up on the other side of the world from her, I’ve only had the opportunity to meet her a few times as a child and most of what I know and love about her comes from stories my mother told me. I wish I had spent more time with my nani when she was healthier but am so thankful that I got to spend time with her this past December when I went home to India for the first time after six years. Over the past year, she’s received radiation and recently found out that she is officially cancer-free! Without the scientific advancements of the past few decades and the knowledge to identify cancer in its early stages, I might not be lucky enough to still have my nani today. So I ride for knowledge in hope that more cases of cancer are caught in earlier stages. I ride so the money raised can go towards research that will allow other people to watch their loved ones recover and get another chance to spend time with the important people in their lives.

I also ride for the children and families at Special Cheers Occupational Therapy Centre. Although most of those children don't have cancer, they do have several other debilitating conditions that require the same kind of fight to overcome or live with. I volunteered at Special Cheers every summer while I was in high school and cherish the memories I have there. I ride for the Special Cheers families because they inspired me to have hope when things get difficult. I ride for the children at Special Cheers because they taught me to smile through the toughest battles and laugh through the pain.