• Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2023
  • Hometown: Katy, TX

About: Hey! I'm Justin, and I am a senior studying Business Honors and Finance with a minor in Management Information Systems. Outside of Texas 4000, I help teach and mentor at local Austin-area high schools with RISE, work on a water management project to promote sustainability in the Galapagos, and play the bells at the top of the UT Tower (yes, it was me that played "All Too Well", and no, it definitely wasn't me that played the Mii Channel music).

About Me's are so difficult for me to write (I would be lying if I said I didn't spend over 10 minutes just trying to decide if I should start with "Hi!" or "Hello!". "Hey!" seemed a bit in-your-face, but I just decided to stick with it). And I would much rather talk about "what I like to do in my free time" or "what I'm interested in" in person, so if you ever want to share a bag(s) of Chester's Hot Fries or (on a more serious note) share your story or anything in between, I would love to chat with you! It would be an honor to bring your or a loved one's story on my journey and dedicate my ride to them.

Why I Ride

When I started my junior year of college, I did some self-reflection to decide how I would want to best spend my last two years. I was happy about where I was in many areas of my life, but I still felt a space I needed to fill. I had been involved with the school, community, and even the university at large but never in an initiative that spans far beyond the reach of the university. But that is exactly what I found through Texas 4000: being a part of a purpose truly larger than life that challenges both my physical and mental capabilities in support of such a purpose.

During the application process, I struggled to feel like I “belonged” in the organization since I did not have any direct ties to cancer. However, I could not forget (try as I might) the passion and drive that each Texas 4000 rider had when I met and spoke with them during the recruitment process. I could just feel a sense of purpose and energy during all my interactions. I felt drawn and inspired by the riders’ dedication, and I wanted to be a part of that mission.

I knew joining Texas 4000 would be my opportunity to throw myself behind a purpose bigger than myself. I also knew I was fortunate to not have any immediate family members affected by cancer and wanted to use this fortune to help others in their fight while supporting Texas 4000’s pillars of spreading hope, knowledge, and charity. I finally found my reason for why I ride: rather than just sit in my fortunes silently, I wanted to serve as an advocate, share the knowledge of cancer prevention, and give hope to those in the fight, those in the dark, and those who may not know tomorrow.

A lasting memory of mine in my teenage years has been the feeling of immense dread and devastation following the flooding of my home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey several years ago. However, I will never forget the memory of the groups of volunteers helping to rebuild my community as they brought not just their tools but a powerful feeling of hope that words cannot describe. Through Texas 4000, it is my strong desire to provide that same feeling of hope in the midst of darkness to those currently in the fight. That is the lasting impact that I hope to make through my involvement in Texas 4000, and that is why I ride. I ride to bring the power of hope to others, a hope just as powerful as the one others had given me in my own dark and hopeless moments.

And now, as I train for the ride of a lifetime alongside my teammates, I have learned so much about the prevalence of cancer all around us through my many conversations with teammates, professors, friends, and even my Uber drivers (and many more). I have been touched by my teammates’ stories of their loved ones, surprised by a professor’s sudden absence from class for cancer treatment, and torn over my Uber driver’s unforgettable story—finding a stable, salaried job after over 2 years of searching, only to be diagnosed with cancer 1 week later and returning as a gig worker in order to get cancer treatment. I add these as more reasons for why I ride. I ride for hope and also for my teammates and their loved ones, for those who are no longer with us and cannot share their story, and for the many whose stories I have yet to hear.