Profile

  • Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2022
  • Hometown: Austin, TX

About: Hello! Thank you so much for visiting my page. My name is Riley and I'm currently a senior majoring Communication and Leadership as well as minoring in Communication and Social Change. The excitement I have towards being in this amazing organization can simply not be put into words and I feel so blessed to be apart of it! My family has always been very invested in the biking world, but has also been deeply affected by cancer. So, this organization has meant a lot to me before I was even directly involved in it.

I've served as an Ignite Texas counselor, currently serve as a Young Life leader, and I'm involved in the college ministry at The Well Community Church. I'm also a college ambassador for a nonprofit called The Archibald Project that focuses on the orphans crisis through storytelling and ethical adoption or foster care.

In my free time you can usually find me at a concert, taking impulsive road trips to Colorado, playing volleyball, drinking way to much coffee needed for the human body, obsessing over my golden lab, and snapping pictures of the beautiful people and nature around me.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

Current Leadership Positions: Mechanic, Media and Public Relations Coordinator, Photographer, Graphic Designer

Why I Ride

Promoting hope, expanding awareness, and engaging in community all for the fight against cancer are the primary reasons I want to ride from Austin to Anchorage. Cancer is a word in of itself that can drastically alter and change the course of someone’s life. Not only have I seen this deadly word reshape the lives of those closest to me, but I’ve also witnessed it take away precious life. When my mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer, our family was quick to cling to faith, hope, and the strong community we were blessed to have around us. It was these core foundations that would help her and my family get through not one, but two rounds of breast cancer. Over the course of three years, my mom would endure a double mastectomy on top of many other surgeries that would eventually help her become cancer free!

Unfortunately, the topic of cancer has always been consistently relevant throughout my life. My dad’s mom also had breast cancer and was able to defeat it through a double mastectomy and his aunt is currently battling through bladder cancer. Additionally, one of my best friends mom’s successfully beat ovarian cancer last year. And, a few months ago, I witnessed cancer take the life of my good friend's grandpa. Amidst the sadness and turmoil that comes along with the realities of cancer, I’ve been able to watch communities foster in a way I would have never expected.

The years when my mom was struggling to battle her breast cancer, we witnessed an outpour of support from friends, family, and other peers. Meals were brought to our home, she was honored at my ‘Dig Pink’ volleyball game, and she was consistently being uplifted in prayer. My initial thoughts to her diagnosis was that of denial, but ultimately I did my best to stay optimistic and rest in the fact that I knew she was a strong fighter. Processing this diagnosis was troubling at times and I often questioned how such a horrendous disease could ever enter the life of anyone’s body, but especially my moms. Leaning on a faith rooted in hope, mercy, and power were the groundworks that my mom and our family held tightly to during her battle. One moment that truly made me understand the mission and value of Texas 4000 was when one of my friends from the 2020 team, Andrea Rego, reached out to me about dedicating a ride to my mom. This simple action reaffirmed my desire to apply for the team because I had only recently met Andrea, yet it was clear that she was willing to fight beside my family and I. Her outpour of love and support to my mom and I was such an encouragement and I wanted to be able to do the same thing for those around me.

I want to ride because I believe that speaking truth goes hand in hand with genuine action and Texas 4000 encapsulates just that through their focus on hope, knowledge, and charity. The emphasis on leadership development and the authentic aspirations of Texas 4000 has been a big motivating factor that has continually drawn me back to this organization. Biking from Austin to Alaska might seem like no simple task, yet it doesn’t compare to the pain of fighting against cancer on a daily basis. This organization brings together a wide range of students who truly want to honor and stand alongside those who are hurting by personally pushing themselves emotionally, mentally, and physically. I want to ride for those who have been affected by cancer, those who are currently affected, those who will have it, and especially those who have lost their life to it. While a 4500 mile bike ride to Alaska won’t necessarily cure cancer, it will help bring education to communities in hopes of decreasing its likeness as well as create a sense of solidarity for people to turn too.

I hope to encourage others by making it known that they’re not in this fight alone. While it can be extremely challenging and disheartening, I want to be able to act as a support system for those who continually struggle to see the positives in their fight against cancer. I pray for a time when cancer is no longer an aspect of our world, but until then it's vital to stay informed, expand hope, and develop relationships that seek to leave a lasting impact.

If your life has been impacted by cancer, I would be honored to hear your story and dedicate my ride to you or a loved one. Please feel free to reach out to me at rwhitford10@gmail.com

Cancer and Beyond...
While the focus of Texas 4000 is to spread hope, knowledge, and charity for the fight against cancer, my teammates and I want to ride and be advocates for many other issues that can often take or dramatically alter one's life. Personally, I ride for anyone, myself included, who has ever struggled with mental illnesses or mental health. This issue is often overlooked, especially in the sports world, yet it is such an important aspect that needs to be addressed. Additionally, I want to ride for anyone who has ever struggled with eating disorders and/or body image. I've seen this consume the lives of so many of my friends and it truly breaks my heart. Lastly, I'm riding for those who have ever been affected by or personally struggle with addiction/ substance abuse. This is never a light struggle or something that is easy to overcome and it that can so easily consume the lives of those around us; at times taking those lives. Addiction see's no race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic income, or religion. Therefore, not only do I ride for those affected by cancer, but also for those who have experienced similar difficulties just with a different name.

Who I Ride For...
My Mom
My Grandma
My Aunt Fran
Larra Oses
Beth Smith
Noah Hartwell's Grandpa
Noble Gilmour's Dad
Helen Faulkner
Jean Varozza
Wendy Castillo
Elliott Perrin's Grandparents
Jim Hornfischer and family
Chris G.
Dan G.
Ryan K.
Aubrey Morris' Dad
Lane Youngblood
Mike O’Connell
Samantha Sargeant
Marcia Sevier
Susan Street and family
Mark Huron
Luci Doyle
Josh Imperial
Kevin Fisher and family
Chad Darbyshire and family
Jamie Schanbaum
Carol Enneking
Britta-Kuhn Schmidt
Laura Brasov
Dana Marley and family
David Lapham Sr.
Ann Brooke
Sarah Knowles
Reagan Knowles
Susan Szaniszlo