• Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Normal, IL

About: Hey there!

I'm Mantra, a Plan II, Geography, and Marketing junior from Central Illinois. I am so excited (!!) to be a 2024 T4K rider and for what the next 18 months hold with my team.

Off the bike path, I'm the Managing Editor at The Daily Texan, the nation's most awarded and followed college newspaper, and a Head Print Editor at the Texas Undergraduate Law Review. After graduation, I hope to go to law school with a view to eventually working in sports or environmental law. Some things I'm passionate about (and will talk your head off about) include immigration policy, mapping healthcare outcomes, the ties between culture and geography, and college basketball.

In my free time, I love being outdoors, especially when biking, playing tennis, or on a hike. I hope to visit every National Park in the US before my 30th birthday and I'm almost halfway there — my favorites so far: Rocky Mountain, Haleakala, and North Cascades.

More than anything, I'm passionate about loving the people around me well and taking time to appreciate the small joys that make my life beautiful.

Why I Ride

I ride for those closest to my heart. For my grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is fighting that battle with tremendous strength. Though she is currently in remission (which we are all so grateful for!), Her struggles, and the impact that it has had on my family has shown me how crucial Texas 4000’s mission is crucial both to the world, but also to those closest to me.

I also ride for my Dadaji, or grandfather, who passed away in April at 81. While he never had cancer, he dealt with a variety of serious health conditions — including Parkinson's — during his later years; though these serious illnesses impacted him, they did not define him. He was a professor, cricketer, coin collector, and community leader. I only got to see a fraction of his life, but the mark that he left on his community is indelible. I ride for his memory and am so fortunate that he knew of and was excited about my Texas 4000 journey!

Beyond my own ties to cancer prevention and treatment, I ride for all who need the message of Texas 4000. When thinking about cancer as a force in our broader world, I am called to the writing of Dr. Paul Kalanithi. His memoir When Breath Becomes Air is my guiding inspiration on what matters and how to live a life of meaning. Importantly, he also recognized that some of the most religious communities in this country are the ones that have the least medical care. In terms of cancer prevention specifically, many of the rural communities near my hometown are very religious and very underserved.

I ride for the people of rural central Illinois, and those similar to them across the country who have been neglected in the fight against cancer.

One of the most important realizations Dr. Kalanithi’s writing gave me is the importance of striving for impact in each and every moment. He sought to make a mark on the lives of others — whether through medicine, writing, or being a husband and father — as long as he could. I aspire to make my mark as often and as deeply as possible, and that is why I ride. I hope to make a difference in the lives of the people I meet, friends I ride with, patients whose stories I hear and survivors whose joys I celebrate.

I ride for me and mine, you and yours, and those we will never know. Please let me know if there is anyone in your life I can ride for!

To Alaska and back, for a better future.