Hey everyone. If you’re reading this, that means I or someone close to me bugged you about something called “Texas 4000.” Before I get into that though, I should tell you a bit about myself. I’m a rising senior at the University of Texas at Austin studying aerospace engineering and mathematics. After I graduate, I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in the field of fluid dynamics. I’m an avid reader, runner, and baker, giraffe fanatic, and future Jeopardy! Champion.
In the summer of 2019, my teammates and I will be biking from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, as part of Texas 4000, a student organization at the University of Texas at Austin dedicated to raising funds for cancer research and care facilities and to raising hope and awareness for cancer patients and survivors. At over 4000 miles, this event is the largest annual charity bike ride in the world – longer even than the Tour de France.
WHY I RIDE:
I ride partly in memory and honor of Bailey Sikorski, who was a friend, a classmate, and even something of a friendly rival. For lack of any better words, Bailey was a light in the truest and purest sense. The positivity that he brought with him to every task and the impact this had upon not just me but upon all those around him cannot be understated. People, myself included, are better for having known and interacted with Bailey.
Although he passed in the fall of 2017 from multiple myeloma, the light he created and spread did not pass with him. It’s still out there, touching and changing people’s lives. Everyone that he interacted with carries a piece of his light. I hope to carry my piece of that light – and through it, him – with me to Alaska and beyond.
It is with great sadness, however, that I recognize that my and Bailey’s stories are not unique. Cancer is the cause of one in every four deaths in the United States, and it is the leading cause of death by disease past infancy in children. In light of this, I have often wondered how many novels have gone unwritten or how many discoveries have gone unmade because the person who was to write or make them passed before his or her time. I have wondered how much human potential has gone unrealized because there is not adequate motivation in our communities to eradicate mortal diseases. How many poor souls could have done something truly great had their lives not been cut short? I know of at least one.
With a certain uneasiness and dismay, I acknowledge that, compared to many in this world, I have had an incredibly privileged upbringing. Born in perfect mental and physical health, I have never fought any disease meaner than the flu. I have never had to worry about being held back or about being incapable of achievement due to disease or disability or any other reason.
Having realized this, I came to the conclusion that it is incumbent upon me, having been given this health and these privileges and opportunities, to use them to the advantage of others. Despite there being some seven billion human beings, it can be a lonely world sometimes – but it shouldn’t have to be that way. None of us should have to struggle alone. Those discoveries and novels – they don’t have to continue on unmade and unwritten.
Bailey is, to me, the ambassador of that anonymous group of dispossessed, disadvantaged, and disprivileged souls. He, like me, was an individual with many opportunities and advantages. He was to reach places higher than I can even see and achieve more greatly than I would ever imagine for myself – as were many of those who passed before their time.
It is for all these individuals, Bailey chief among them, that I shall ride – to Alaska as part of Texas 4000 and through life as a human being. I shall ride for all those who would, but cannot.
Whether or not you choose to donate, if there is anyone in your life that has been affected by cancer or that you would like me to ride for, I encourage you to reach out to me at (210) 289-7222 or at Joey.J.Williams@gmail.com and share with me your story. I would be honored to ride on your behalf for whomever you know that is fighting or has fought cancer.
If you give, I shall ride.
To Alaska and beyond,
Joseph J. Williams
"There is no status quo in any aspect of life. You're either going up or down."