• Route: Ozarks
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Texarkana, TX

About: Hey guys! I'm a fourth year Psychology major here at UT. I'm originally from the metropolitan wonderland of Texarkana, TX. I am super interested in anything psychology, from mental health to the neurobiological inner-workings of the human mind- why we do the things we do. In my free time, I enjoy playing the guitar, spending time in the gym/outdoors, and hanging out with friends. Don't hesitate to hit me up if you want to start a band and/or talk about anything!

Why I Ride

There are many reasons why I decided to embark on this 4000 mile journey to Alaska. Firstly- for my grandparents. My paternal grandmother was severely weakened by her breast cancer, and although she was a strong and willful woman, it eventually led to her passing. The effect this had on my dad was particularly heartbreaking, as he and his mom were very close. It was also difficult watching the disease slowly sap at her energy, and hearing about her phasing between the stages of recovery and resurgence in part motivated me to embark on this journey.

My maternal grandfather is a generally healthy, jovial, and youthful man, so when he received his prostate cancer diagnosis it surprised all of us- including him. My mother recounted to me an emotional moment that occurred shortly after he found out. It was the one of the only times she had witnessed him crying, and she herself fought back tears as she told us the news. Thankfully, after a strict vegan diet, chemotherapy, and an abundance of hopeful prayers, my grandfather at last came out victorious, and is still sharing his light with us today.

These two experiences, one of grief and one of joy, reflect the duality of battles like these. On one hand, the losses hurl us into melancholy, reminding us of the fragility of life and the imminence of death. On the other hand, the victories can be a time of jubilation, the reminder that these conditions are not all-powerful, and that we have the ability to fight cancer, learn from what little we understand, and hope for a better tomorrow.

I ride for my grandparents.

Last summer, I worked as a counselor at a camp for children with Type I diabetes. Through giving them emotional and medical support I was able to develop relationships with these kids and see the world through their perspective. Their medical condition is one that places a burden on their entire lifestyle – from financial to physical to mental. Though in some ways fundamentally different from cancer patients, when I watched them interact I saw that the resilience and strength they developed was immense. Much like in the face of a diagnosis, they helped remind me that hope is always present – even in the toughest situations.

I ride for those children.

Lastly, I ride for anyone who has been affected directly or indirectly by cancer. The mental toll this disease takes does not stop at the person affected- it spreads like wildfire to the people surrounding them. Whether or not you know a person directly affected by cancer, chances are that the person you smiled at walking down the street or the person that held the door for you the other day have an indirect connection to it- and chances are it affects them more than you can know. So, I ride for all the untold stories, the people suffering quietly because of their connection to cancer, and all the people who struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I ride for you.

Don't hesitate to reach out if you would like to share your story or simply have a shoulder to lean on.

To Alaska and back,