I think most people know of someone who has been affected by cancer in some way or another by the time they reach college. I had watched classmates confront this disease in their families, I had watched it take the lives of fellow students, of teammates, and extended family members. I felt deep admiration for the strength of those who had overcome it.
I will forever remember my parents sitting us down in the living room when they shared the news. It seemed impossible that my dad, the strongest, most intelligent person I know, had been diagnosed with a non-curable form of Leukemia. Somehow, the same person who raised me, who taught me everything I knew about sports, inspired my passion for music, and managed tutor me in every school subject, had cancer. My hero - who taught himself languages, who could beat about anyone in a chess game and run faster the anyone I knew, who could do just about anything had cancer. Unfair seemed like an understatement.
I ride for my dad: my biggest supporter, my role model, and the one person that I have consistently looked up to throughout my life. Growing up I had heard all about his bike trips—Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast, the Lewis and Clark trail, and European adventures. His next big cycling goal was to bike across the United States, which was a running joke in the family - my brother, my mom and I were going to tag along, even though in reality we all knew we could never keep up. Cancer has taken so much away from my family and my friends, but what it has begun to take from my dad is so much more. I ride to support him, so I can achieve one of his goals while simultaneously supporting the one cause that prevents him from accomplishing it himself.
I ride for my grandmother who I lost before I could grasp the meaning of death or cancer. I ride for my aunt, one of the most resilient women I know, who overcame breast cancer. I ride for two of my best friends, one who lost her father to melanoma and one who had to watch her mother battle breast cancer. Two people whose strength has continued to inspire me every day.
I ride for hope. So that someday, people won't have to hear the word cancer and feel their world fall apart. I ride so others can spend every day of their lives doing what they love. I ride to support people through the worst days of their lives. I ride for all those with family members and friends affected by cancer because it truly does affect everyone in some way. I ride for the lives lost and lives changed. Most importantly, I ride for a cure.