- Route: Sierra
- Ride Year: 2024
- Hometown: Austin, TX
- School Year: Freshman
- Major: Neuroscience and Plan II
- Email: email@example.com
Howdy! My name is Avery Wong, and I'm absolutely PUMPED to bike to Alaska with such an inspiring 2024 team. I'm a sophomore majoring in Plan II, and while I may not know exactly what to do upon graduation, I am determined to use my time at UT to explore my passions.
Outside of Texas 4000, I'm involved in my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega and Austin Stone College Ministry. Through Alpha Chi Omega, I'm able to pursue my passion for service by volunteering and supporting our local shelter—The SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) Alliance. With the Austin Stone College Ministry, I've been able to do life vulnerably in the security of a grace-defined community, and I'm beyond blessed to call that church home.
Besides my involvement with UT-student orgs, you can find me screaming my head off on Saturdays @ DKR, jogging with my friends around Austin, or reading a book on the tower lawn. I thank God for giving me an able-body, with strength that can bike to Alaska. The 2024 team is my newfound family, and I cannot wait for us to fight cancer every mile!
Why I Ride
I discovered Texas 4000 for Cancer when I was in 8th grade, and what instantly struck me was the collective character of the riders. Texas 4000 was one of the first organizations where a group of people seemed to exemplify what it means to be selfless, compassionate, and united under a common goal: kick cancer’s butt. To think there was a group of UT students that would give up an entire summer to ride on a bike across the country blew my mind. I was both amazed by how crazy yet utterly cool these college kids were and since then, I knew I had to be a part of this organization.
It’s been awhile since 8th grade, and as I’ve grown up, I’ve seen the ways cancer has impacted the lives of so many people I know. In high school, I was involved in our annual “Relay for Life” event benefiting the American Cancer Society. From 6PM to 2AM, various student organizations would pledge their support via continuously walking around the track. Like Texas 4000, Relay For Life is a beautiful way to demonstrate supporting the fight against cancer. Whether it's walking for 8 hours or biking for an entire summer, cancer never stops, so neither do we.
The most life changing part, however, was listening to survivors and affected families’ testimonies. I was always inspired by their confidence, strength, and vulnerability despite talking to an audience of hundreds. Every speaker chose to tell their story with encouragement, joy, and strength, despite discussing a very vulnerable and sad time of their lives. They truly embodied what it means to “fight cancer”, and their stories continue to inspire me today.
For 11 years, “Relay for Life” was run by a very special lady–Kirsten Mulligan. If I were to pinpoint a high school role model, it would be her. She is a contagious, energetic ray of sunshine. Even on the longest days of the year, she never failed to energize my day, put a smile on my face, or make my difficult days a little better.
The fall of my senior year, Mrs. Mulligan’s husband passed away from cancer. Through her experience, I saw the way cancer could overtake one’s life. Yet even in her mourning, though she had every reason to withdraw, she chose to celebrate his life through her actions. Every day, Mrs. Mulligan chose to show up to school and still be a source of resounding positivity, so strong it would radiate through the entire school. Despite losing her husband, her strength never wavered. I especially ride for the Mulligan family, because after years of being encouraged and supported by Mrs. Mulligan, I want to dedicate my journey as a way to give back even an ounce of her love.
Though the summer ride will be both physically and mentally greuling, I’ll carry these stories along with me. And when there are moments of doubt and wanting to quit, I know that in riding for a community greater than myself, I’ll continue on. While I’ve been blessed to not lose a loved one to cancer, I’ve seen how it’s affected the lives of my dearest people. I’m not biking for myself, but rather for people who have lost their battle for cancer, those currently battling cancer, and the vast community of people supporting their loved ones in their fight against cancer. I ride for everyone whose lives have been affected by cancer. They have every reason to be disheartened, yet choose to be encouraging, joyful, and strong everyday. I ride to fight battles for those who cannot. I ride to empower anyone I can.
I thank God for being able to engage in this organization. Texas 4000 truly embodies driven, selfless, and compassionate people, and I am honored to play my part in the fight against cancer through Texas 4000. Let's do this!!!
To Alaska and beyond,