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

About: Well, hello there!

First off, thank you so much for being here and learning a little more about Texas 4000. My name is Grace Andres, and I am a senior Biochemistry major and Spanish minor on the premedical track. This career choice brings along a lot of late nights at the Life Science library and an array of my favorite coffee shops, normally alongside my best friends who are on the pre med track as well. When I am not studying, I enjoy spending time with friends or doing something active outside. Whether it is binge watching movies or TV shows, chatting for hours in the Tri Delt dining room, listening to music at a damagingly loud volume or making some sort of unnecessary journey to get to the place selling our latest food craving, my friends never fail to keep me entertained and make me feel loved. However, time spent outside for me is normally where I take my “me-time”. I grew up in Seattle and later moved to Austin, which are both places that have allowed my love for the outdoors to grow immensely. I love to run, hike, ski, bike and play soccer.

UT has allowed me to grow more than I ever could imagine. It’s sharpened my skills and granted me knowledge to carry me through my journey of becoming a doctor. It has brought me friendships I will cherish forever, and a community I can always rely on. Texas 4000 is another part of my journey here at UT that continues to change my life everyday, and I am so glad you will be able to hear a little more about it.

Why I Ride

I heard about Texas 4000 freshman year but did not know much about it. I thought you would have to be crazy to bike to Alaska, and part of me thought maybe I had that crazy within me. Time flew - and now, I am a part of something I have thought about since 2018.

When I was very young, I lost a grandfather to cancer, but I was too little to understand the depths of pain this illness can cause. Growing up, my mom told me about my grandfather, and I know she would have loved for him to have more time with me and my siblings and watch us grow up. I am so lucky to be able to hear more about who he was from her and know he is watching over my mom and the rest of my family, along now with my grandmother, who was so fond of him. I will always ride for my grandfather and grandmother.

In summer of 2020, my best friend Peyton’s brother, Dustin, was diagnosed with cancer. He fought this disease until October 2021, when he passed along side Peyton and the rest of his family. He is endlessly loved, and I will ride every day in support for those he left behind, including my amazing and fiercely loyal friend Peyton. I am dedicating my ride this summer to his memory and will carry his story with me from Austin all the way to Alaska.

I will also ride for my mom's long time best friend Kahren. Growing up, I heard countless stories of the college shenanigans that Kahren, my mom and the rest of their crew always seemed to get themselves into. They were, and still are, the best of friends. I will always strive to be the type of friend that they are to each other. Kahren was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment at the end of February 2021. In November 2021 she was taken from those she loved far too soon. I will ride every day for her family, friends, including my mom, and all those who she left behind. The impact that Kahren had in this world was vast, and I will ride on my journey to Alaska honoring her memory.

I also ride to support those searching for a cure, improvements in treatment and diagnosis, and ways to support those who have been diagnosed. No one deserves to get cancer, and no one is totally equipped to deal with the financial and mental health aspects that come along with a diagnosis. Current life changing treatments are expensive and can be difficult to access, and they take years of research and funding to develop into ones that can be utilized on patients. I ride to support them in hope that one day a cure will be found. I also ride to encourage and raise awareness about mental health issues that can be tied to cancer and otherwise, and for my friend Karsen who is so inspirational and passionate about this cause that she has pushed me to act as well.

Cancer is something that continues to affect people everyday. My list of reasons and people I ride for is growing constantly. I will ride for the people I meet along this journey and the people they know who have been touched by cancer. I will ride alongside my teammates and for all those in their lives that have been affected by cancer. We will continue to fight together until a cure for cancer is found.

I would love to hear your story of how cancer has touched your life and would love to ride for you and your loved ones. Please do not hesitate to reach out!

Yours in the Fight,