Profile

  • Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2022
  • Hometown: Friendswood, TX

About: Hi, I’m Zeke and I am a second-year computational engineering major at UT Austin! I am on the pre-medical track and am interested in utilizing computational methods to help further the world of medicine, possibly through a career as a physician-scientist.

On campus, I am a member of Texas AED (a pre-health honor society), Texas Global Medical Brigades, and Tau Beta Pi (an engineering honor society)! I am also a part of the Health Leadership Apprentice Program through Dell Medical School where I am working with a small group of other students to design a project that will improve health in the community. Additionally, I am working under Dr. Newberry in The Newberry Lab on research to study protein misfolding and how it can lead to diseases such as Parkinson's!

In my free time I love watching Netflix or Hulu, swimming, or doing anything outdoors! I am currently watching American Horror Story, but my favorite show is probably Black Mirror. I also love eating great food and drinking tons of coffee (cold brew is my favorite). It is definitely super rare if I go a day without coffee. Some random things about me: My bucket list destination is Machu Picchu, I am a Libra, and I am also an Eagle Scout!

Thank you for visiting my page and letting me share my story! I am so excited to be a part of Texas 4000, and I cannot wait to see how it will continue to impact me.

Why I Ride

I ride for my maternal grandmother and for Aunt Ruby. If I could have lunch with anyone in the world, dead or alive, I would have lunch with these two people. Cancer took both of these amazing women before I had the chance to truly meet them. Hearing incredible stories about these women from the rest of my family has shown me what an inspiration they were to others.

I ride for Mrs. Barbara Curnutt. The Curnutt family were amazing friends to my family. My sister was friends with their daughter since they had both danced together, so our families hung out often. They would always have us over for dinner, invite us on their boat, and even invite us on vacations with them. Every time I saw them, I remember Mrs. Barbara Curnutt was always filled with joy and had the biggest smile on her face. She constantly made sure that everyone was happy and put others before herself. I was in middle school when my mom told me that she had been diagnosed with brain cancer, but I don't even think I knew what cancer was. She had fought so hard against the cancer and beat it, but it eventually came back again and took her life. I later found out that she had actually fought brain cancer when she was much younger before I knew her. Mrs. Barbara Curnutt was a fighter and I ride for her.

I ride for my paternal grandma. Every holiday growing up was spent going to her house. I remember every time we would walk in the door after hours of driving to get there, we would always be greeted with the smell of some amazing dessert or delicious snack that she had cooked. She would always greet me with the best hug and she always had a smile on her face. However, she would never let me get more than 10 steps in the door before asking how close I was to achieving the Eagle Scout rank in Boy Scouts. She always pushed me to be the best person that I could be. When I had heard that she had been diagnosed with cancer at the beginning of the summer in 2016, I didn’t think too much of it. I thought that I still had a lot of time to spend with her. However, when the cancer began to rapidly spread and take over her body, I knew that I needed to make the most of the moments I did have with her. Visiting her over that summer was different. She was in a care facility and was very weak. I could tell that she was fighting hard, but the cancer continued to eat away at her life. Eventually, she lost her life to cancer in July of 2016, less than three months after she had been diagnosed. Because of this, I am constantly reminded to make the most of the time that I do have with those around me.

I ride for my mom. Just three days before my mom was scheduled to ride in her first MS 150, a two-day bike ride from Houston to Austin, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). The very disease that she was riding for had found its way into her life. She went on to do the ride and continued to ride for many subsequent years. Eventually, in 2015, when I was 14, she asked me if I wanted to ride with her. I jumped at the chance and rode in both the 2015 and 2016 MS 150 rides. It was such an amazing experience to not only be able to ride with her but also for her.

When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in my senior year of high school, it came as a shock. Despite the shocking statistic that one out of eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, I still did not expect someone so close to me to be affected by such a vicious disease. Luckily, the doctors caught it early, and she was able to receive amazing treatment at MD Anderson to have the cancer surgically removed. Seeing my mom battle MS every day and successfully beat breast cancer has shown me how strong of a fighter she is. She provides a source of hope that we can end cancer.

I ride for the researchers that continue to fight towards a future that is free of cancer. I also ride for the many people who do not have a support system to help them through their fight. I cannot imagine going through such a tough experience all alone, and I want those people to know that I ride for them.

If you or someone in your life has been impacted by cancer or anything else, I would love to hear your story and I would be honored to dedicate a portion of my ride to you or a loved one. Feel free to reach out to me at (832) 672-9730 or zekebickham@utexas.edu!

To Alaska and Back,
Zeke