Hello !! My name is Maria Krychniak, and I am a first-generation American, a homegrown Austinite, and a third-year Honors Mathematics major at The University of Texas at Austin.
My family is my inspiration for everything that I do and everything that I am. I was raised by my parents, Piotr and Mari, alongside my two sisters, Nathalia and Aleksandra. My sisters inspire me with their creativity and free-spirits and have always encouraged me to take advantage of the experiences life has to offer. My parents are both immigrants; my dad is from Warsaw, Poland, and my mom is from Maracaibo, Venezuela. I was brought up trilingual and cherish all aspects of my unique heritage and culture. My parents worked extremely hard to build a life for our family and are my biggest support systems in everything that I do.
Besides being a part of Texas 4000, where I will be biking from Austin, TX to Anchorage, AK (yikes, I know), I am also involved in other organizations on campus such as the Polymathic Scholars Honors program, Camp Texas, and Texas Spirits. I work as a First-Year Interest Group Mentor on campus, lead as a counselor at Camp RYLA (a camp coordinated by Rotary Clubs), and intern as a Software Engineer at a Houston-based company called PROS.
I hope to work in mathematical modeling or software engineering in the future and plan to continue serving my community as much as possible in the coming years.
I consider myself extremely lucky to wake up every day with the health and life that I have, but I know others are not as fortunate. This is why I ride.
My first experience with cancer came from hearing stories about my grandfather, Abuelito Luis, who passed away from prostate cancer before I was born. Abuelito Luis was the father of eight children, and I grew up hearing stories about his sense of humor and unconditional love. Similarly, my Tía Luisa, a wonderful woman who spent her life helping others as a doctor, passed away from breast cancer, but at the time of her passing, I was too young to fully understand what death and cancer entailed. I lost a grandfather and an aunt, but my mother lost a father and a sister. As someone who grew up with two sisters, a mom, and a dad, I cannot fathom what it would be like to lose any of them as my mom did. This is why I ride.
Outside of my family, I have never been particularly close to someone who has been diagnosed with and/or passed away from cancer, however, I have witnessed the ripple effect this disease has, destroying the people around it and the people suffering from it. I have witnessed what cancer does to mothers, brothers, fathers, daughters, grandparents, and friends, and though I have always strived to help people throughout my entire life, I have witnessed myself feel helpless and hopeless when it comes to comforting some of my best friends and family members left in cancer’s destructive wake. This is why I ride.
Luckily, Texas 4000 is built on hope: hope for a better future in which we are no longer afraid of cancer. I want to do more in the fight to end cancer, and Texas 4000 gives me the opportunity to help people—both around me and beyond my reach—fight for a cancer-free future. I have seen how cancer can tear people apart, but I have also seen how cancer can bring people together. Texas 4000 brings people with all different types of stories, backgrounds, and motives to stand together in the fight against cancer. This is why I ride.
I ride so that my good friends and family members don’t have to lose people that they love, because they, like everyone else, deserve better than that. I ride so that I can listen to and learn from the stories of those battling cancer. I ride for my mom and her losses and the people cancer claimed before I could meet them. I ride to inspire others, and I ride because everyone deserves a second chance at life. I ride to push myself, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and I ride to see the difference I can make in this world with love, determination, and a bike. I ride for strangers, friends, and loved ones. I ride for the mission of Texas 4000, for all of my teammates, and for the people who cannot ride for themselves. This world and everyone in it deserve a cancer-free future, and I ride with the hope that one day this will become a reality.
Currently, my personal goal is to raise $9,000 for cancer research, cancer support services, and Texas 4000's mission of spreading hope, knowledge, and charity. Your support and donations really do make a difference, and I thank you for all your love and support for a cancer-free future.
I believe in life, community, love, and the beauty of hope. This is why I ride, and I hope you will join me on this wild journey !!