- Route: Ozarks
- Ride Year: 2023
- Hometown: Dallas, Texas
- School Year: Senior
- Major: Plan II, Marketing, Women's and Gender Studies
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm a senior at the University of Texas at Austin trying really hard to figure out how to write a good About Me section. Seeking feedback.
I come from a huge family in Dallas, Texas, where I was born and raised, and I feel so incredibly blessed to have some of the best family and friends in the world who inspire me to be the best version of myself every day.
When I'm not studying the art of how to create the most compelling About Me section possible, you might find me doing a New York Times crossword puzzle, making a mean Spotify playlist full of jams from every era, listening to my collection of CD's and LP's, doing yoga and running, or trying really hard to cook delicious things that end up being not really that delicious. It's the effort that counts.
I am so excited to be on this Texas 4000 journey, and would love to include you in every step of the way. XOXO
Why I Ride
Many mornings Rose Marie Cox, my childhood nanny, would make cream of wheat and climb the stairs to my bedroom singing Mahalia Jackson. She would stomp into my room, drag my begrudging body out of bed, and pack my lunch for school shortly after. Rose was a lot of things - but slight was not one of those things. If she was there, you knew it.
I like to say I was raised by an army of the most powerful women in the world - my mother, my sister, my grandmother, and Rose. My amazing father, too.
Rose was a pillar of strength, support, and unconditional, fierce love - a master southern chef - a maker of peanut butter and jellies. She was large and strong. She snored so loudly that it sometimes shook my house. She was serious about her hugs. Rose was passionate about making sure I looked good, acted good, and treated people good. I never left my house with a wrinkled shirt, my clothes always wreaked of Downey, and she showed me through example the way to be a good person every day. Rose was a devout Christian woman and attended church every Wednesday and Sunday. I always knew when it was church day because she would wear her special perfume.
My family is Jewish, but this did not stop Rose from protecting me in every way she knew how to - praying over me every evening before bed and every time she was at church. When I went to visit her church for the first time at 16, the entire congregation knew me by name and prayed over me, too.
Running up the length of the stairs she climbed to my room every morning were several portraits of my mother’s nuclear family. They stared at the top of my head as a child as I hopped down each step towards the kitchen to eat the cream of wheat on the stove. The faces of my mothers father, brother, sisters, and cousins were never familiar, as they were the faces of lives that were taken mostly by cancer.
I watched these tragedies through the bottom of a glass floor, never anticipating that the glass would break beneath me. This was until the Summer of 2017, when I learned that cancer knows no bounds--it is unforgiving and merciless.
Rose began having trouble walking up the same stairs she used to climb with ease - the Mahalia Jackson songs grew softer and the hugs became short breathed good mornings. She was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma later that year. We sat at our kitchen table as a family helping her to navigate the confusing medical jargon and insurance systems. We spent hours calling doctors at Parkland Hospital and demanded more tests - more options - more support. We sat and watched as she lost her hair, and then her home, and then the loud voice that used to scream How Great Thou Art up the stairs each morning. Although her physical presence began to wane, she ensured that she maintained mental presence and tenacity. She was still praying. She was still fighting. This was how things were until the day she passed.
In August of 2018, I visited Rose in her care facility one last time - holding her hand and kissing her with a soft intensity. She wrapped me in her arms - arms that were once large and strong.
I ride because I refuse to let Rose become another photo on my staircase in vain. I ride because it is unfair that the medical system in the United States favors those with privilege, and I hope to raise awareness and funds to help democratize this access. I ride because of the physical environment that Rose grew up with - the environment that statistically caused her, and millions like her, to get a preventable cancer diagnosis.
I am riding in Texas 4000 for my mother, whose life was altered forever as picture after picture on her staircase became distant memories and traumatic stories. For:
Elizabeth, Morton, & Scott Lewis
Melinda Sue Marcus
Steven Seltzer and Family
Pam and Reginald Stafford
And so many others in my family whose lives have been impacted by a cancer diagnosis.
As a child, I felt the indirect consequences that cancer had on my family, but now the protective glass is shattered. There are millions of people like Rose all over the United States. I ride to take the stories of the ones I love and fight with them.
Who do you ride for? I would love to ride for them with you.
To Alaska and back,