I have been fortunate to not have had to experience the effects of cancer personally. However, my grandmother passed away from breast cancer long before I was born. While I never got to build a relationship with her, I know she was someone I would have loved dearly for two reasons: 1) I know how much I love and treasure my time with my grandparents I have been blessed to get to know and 2) She raised my father. For him to be as amazing as he is meant that she too must have been amazing.
One of the many things I’m grateful for, ever since I joined Texas 4000, is that I feel as if I’ve gotten to know my grandmother better. Partly, in the sense that I’ve begun to ask more about her, but even more so through hearing the stories of those who have been affected by cancer. By listening to these stories, I also get to know a little more about who she was and what she’s been through. While everyone’s story is his or her own, I have come to see a common theme - in the midst of battling cancer, every single person affected has remained strong. When facing a disease that only offers pain and death, they choose hope and life and love.
What I love about hope and strength is that, while prevalent in the lives of cancer fighters, they are universal themes essential to most areas in all of our lives. An area very close to my heart is mental health. It pains me deeply when I hear the stories and hurt from friends who have lost loved ones to suicide, because I, personally, have struggled with depression and anxiety. Eventually, I found my worth and hope in Christ, and through that I have learned to fight for my mental health. I’m proud to say that I’ve come this far, but I know there are many others just like me who are still struggling. Where people find their hope and strength is up to them, but I want them to be able to find peace as well. That’s why joined Texas 4000 - to share the hope and strength I have come to find with everyone I can, both on and off the bike.
I recognize that choosing to hope and to fight is a daily battle and is not easy. It’s as Stuart Scott said at the 2014 ESPYs, “When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live. So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you."
I think this is where it all ties together, and where this organization comes into the picture. Texas 4000 truly embodies what it means to fight for someone else. Although each of my teammates comes from different places with different experiences, we are unified through our dedication to take on some of this pain, this struggle, and this fight, so that others can have it a little easier. Through the knowledge we share, we are inspiring others to take action through preventative measures. Through the money we raise, we are supporting researchers to find a cure. Through simply listening to people’s stories, we are giving them a chance to feel heard and letting them know that they are not alone. We all believe in a day when this world can be cancer-free. And although we ride for the fight specifically against cancer, I want everyone to know that their lives are precious and beautiful and worth fighting for.
This includes you, my reader! I’m thankful that you’ve taken the time to read this, and I want you to know that your story matters. I am privileged for this chance to fight in and support your battles, so I’d love if you would share them with me so that I can be thinking of you and your loved ones during my time with Texas 4000 and beyond. Second, I would not be able to do this without you, and so I ask for your support. Whether it is through your financial support or prayers, I hope that you can find ways to actively join the cause. Finally, I’d like to challenge each and every one of you to join me in this journey. While I may be physically riding a bike with this organization, you, too, can live your life “riding” for a purpose - a purpose that could potentially make a positive and lasting impact on someone else.
I RIDE for the lives of those who got cut short, and for those who have lost someone too soon.
I RIDE for those who are fighting their respective battles, so that when they need rest I can fight for them.
I RIDE for those with loved ones who are struggling. Thank you for loving on and for fighting for them. They could not do it without you.
I RIDE for mental health. This applies to every one of us, and it is a bigger part of our health than we may realize.
I RIDE for my team of passionate and inspiring individuals. While I may never fully understand some of the things they’ve experienced, I am thankful for this opportunity to be able to serve alongside and love on them.
I RIDE because even the smallest actions and words matter, more than even 4,500 miles could.
I RIDE for encouragement. For empowerment. For strength.
I RIDE for HOPE.