• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Victoria, Texas

About: Hi! My name is Hansa Saif. When I was only three years old, my family left Pakistan and moved to the United States. Despite having spent most of my life in the U.S., my parents made every effort to preserve our Pakistani culture. As I've grown older I've come to respect their efforts and refusal to assimilate to the western way of life. Through my culture, I have learned many of my core values such as the significance of family, value of respecting elders, and the strength of a united community.

My parents are my biggest role models. My dad worked tirelessly to provide for our family while my mom dedicated her life to raising me and my siblings. My parents have always been there for me, giving me everything I have ever needed. If not for their sacrifices, I would not be the person I am today. As I reflect, I am overcome with gratitude for the opportunities that I have been given. I have the opportunity to attend a renowned university like UT. I have the opportunity to major in Human Development and Family sciences, a topic that truly interests me. I have the opportunity to pursue my passion for medicine and work towards my goals of becoming a pediatrician. I have the opportunity to be a part of this organization where I can truly make a difference in the lives of others.

Why I Ride

I embarked on this journey for my cousin, Shazia who everyone knew by the nickname Api Baby.

She was one of the most hard working people in my family. I still have fond memories of waking up and going into the kitchen at 6am to see her making large batches of candied apples to sell at the family shop later that day. She then would get ready to go on long runs around the neighborhood and when she came back I would watch in awe as she jumped rope and continued her workout. She inspired me to keep pushing myself each day. In addition to her hard work, she was an essential pillar of the family. She was the glue of our joint family home.

I still remember the day the first crack on the pillar formed. She was going about her normal morning routine when she felt herself getting more and more tired to the point where she could not keep running. This was followed by severe stomach aches over the course of the next few days. After countless doctor visits and extreme confusion, she was diagnosed with Leukemia.

That was the first hit to the pillar and it didn't take long until it all came crumbling down. It was the summer of 2010 when the leukemia spread through her central nervous system and she could no longer carry herself, becoming paraplegic. The following years, it got even harder as the bedsores worsened into a large wound on her entire back. As the disease succumbed to her personality it left behind an empty shell, filled with only helplessness and uncertainty.

I still remember asking her once, "What do you miss the most before you were diagnosed with cancer?" and her immediate reply was, "Being able to do things by myself. I feel like such a burden now." Her response truly changed my perspective. It made me realize that like my strong cousin, other patients struggling in their fight against cancer, fall victim to depression and become irritated by what their helplessness. They feel like as if their life has no purpose and it becomes difficult to find a reason to stay strong and keep fighting.

Being a part of Texas 4000 I want to share hope, knowledge and charity. To show everyone fighting cancer that their strength is our strength. We are empowered by their fight and where they might find little reason to continue fighting, we find our purpose to keep pushing. When they see us cross that finish line in Alaska, I want them to know that they were the prime reason we could do it. They are not burdens to others rather they fueled us to keep pushing like they do every single day.

My cousin did not make it through to the other side of her fight against cancer, so I picked up where she left off in hopes of completing this journey for her all the way at the finish line in Alaska. However, along the way I am finding countless more reasons and people to do it for. I ride for any single person who has suffered from cancer, I ride for any family members whose lives have been affected by cancer, I ride for those who feel helpless, I ride for those who feel alone, I ride for the strength that they have. Please let me know if you have anyone specific for whom you'd like me to ride for. I would love to hear their story and keep them in my heart as I train for this journey!