• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2023
  • Hometown: Austin, TX

About: Hello & thank you for checking out my page!
My name is Rachel and I am currently a junior at UT, studying liberal arts & advertising. I grew up in Austin, TX, and I love to be outside as much as possible, especially running at Pease Park, swimming at Deep Eddy, or biking on the trail. Outside of Texas 4000, I host a weekly show on KVRX 91.7 student radio, spend way too much time curating my Letterboxd movie reviews, and read for book club discussions with my fellow riders.

Why I Ride

Hair was always something special in my family. My mother, grandmother, great aunts and I all have the same type of unruly, expansive curls that you can spot from a mile away. However, none of us had hair quite like my grandmother; her curls were always perfectly coiffed in a signature halo, dubbed “the ‘fro” by an older cousin.

When my grandmother was diagnosed with brain cancer, I didn’t really understand what it meant until I saw her hair falling out. She was a powerful lady, always up for anything and doing everything; so in my mind the word “terminal” didn’t apply to her. I never questioned if she would get better, only how soon. Then, during a visit to her hospital bed, when I pulled away from a hug and a clump of her iconic curls came as well, it hit me that my amazing grandmother was not invincible.

She started treatment in January 2020, and from then on, weekends were spent in the oncology ward, holding her hand as she battled through chemo. After a valiant fight, she passed away on February 11th. Her health had declined so rapidly and so unexpectedly that we were all left reeling. She was the sun that we all orbited around, and the loss of her presence, with all of its vibrancy and warmth, was devastating. I ride for my grandmother, in order to complete a pilgrimage in her honor. A combination of deep rooted reverence, gratitude, and indebtedness to her calls me to help others in their own battles with cancer however I can. She was a lifelong nurse, dedicating her life to taking care of others, and her selflessness inspires me to do the same.

The oncology ward always felt like a delirious blur, but the thing that stood out to me most was the other patients and connections we made. Although my family isn’t very big, we were a strong force of love rallied around my grandmother during all of her treatments. She was never alone at any step of the way. After spending more than enough time in the oncology ward, however, I noticed other patients that weren’t surrounded by loved ones during their journeys. In those moments, it felt almost gluttonous that my grandmother had so many people there for her and others had none. We would talk to the people around us, learn their stories, and share encouragement, but ultimately I never knew how their journeys ended, and that haunts me every day.

No one should ever have to face cancer on their own. While I ride for my grandmother, I also ride for all those who have to experience the terrifying journey of cancer treatment without the support they need. I ride in order to share with those who are affected by cancer the knowledge that they are not alone.

For all my loved ones who have fought with cancer, like my grandmother on my father’s side who I never got to meet, and my favorite English teacher, Mr. Hale, I ride for them. For all those who need uplifting, strength, and support in their experience with cancer, I ride to give them comfort in the knowledge that they have someone fighting for them. And finally, to my grandmother, I ride for you, for all the things we didn’t get to do together. By raising money, spreading awareness, and sharing hope, I intend to do what I can to create a future where no one has to lose a loved one to cancer, struggle through treatments alone, or ever feel like there is no hope left for them.

If there is anyone that you would like me to ride for, please let me know.