• Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Saratoga Springs, NY

About: Hello! My name is Grace and I am a senior at UT majoring in geography and sustainability studies with a concentration in natural resource management and minoring in geology. I am very passionate about environmental conservation and I hope to go into the field of conservation work after I graduate. The current plan is to be a park ranger! This summer I attended a study abroad program in Botswana. I did field work and studied climate change and its effects on the vegetation and people living in the Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta, as well as human-wildlife conflict and interactions. I also volunteer at the Vertebrate Palentology lab working to identify and date bones and fossils found in caves around Central Texas.

If you couldn’t already tell, I love to be outside. You can find me paddling a river with Longhorn Stream Team, guiding a backpacking trip with the UT Outdoor Center, and soon biking to Alaska! I also love going to see live music and exploring new food spots around Austin, knitting, reading, and cats!

Why I Ride

Here is a little about why I ride. My mom has always been the healthiest person I know. She grows all of our food in a massive backyard vegetable garden, only eats eggs that come from our chickens, runs 5 miles a day, and can swim the length of an entire lake without getting tired.

That is why, last summer, I was completely shocked when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before my mom’s diagnosis, I had never experienced cancer firsthand, although my grandfather died of lung cancer. It took him before I got the chance to meet him, but my dad's stories about their days at the family lake house and hunting together make me wish that I got that opportunity.

My mom has always been relatively skeptical of doctors– when talking about mammograms before her diagnosis, she shrugged them off. Maybe her cancer could have been caught months (or years), earlier if she had gotten her annual mammograms. I know she regrets that every day. Unfortunately, that is the reality for millions of people. Early diagnosis is the most important and deciding factor of cancer fatality rates. That is why I want to cycle to Alaska to fight cancer. I want to stop in every little town on the way to Alaska and inform people about the importance of early detection and prevention.

My mom has completed all four of her chemo treatments, has undergone two surgeries and 6 weeks of radiation, followed by five years of hormone therapy. I hope and pray that this will be the end of her cancer journey, but it will not be the end of my journey fighting cancer from Texas to Alaska.

To Alaska and back,