I come from a family of doctors in which education is valued above everything else. My nani (maternal grandmother) was born in a time when India wasn’t free. Nevertheless, she became a surgeon in the 60s and also single-handedly raised three children who all went on to become physicians. In fact, my nani performed the caesarean on my mother to deliver me in a small hospital in Mumbai, India. Her inspiring life story, and numerous accomplishments in the face of adversity, makes her my role model. My nani was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thankfully, her cancer was caught early, before it had left the thyroid capsule, and was removed with surgery. She is now receiving radiation and will be repeating tests soon to ensure that the cancer is gone. If it were not for the scientific advancements of the past few decades and the knowledge to identify cancer in its early stages, I might not be lucky enough to still have my nani today. So I ride for knowledge in hope that more cases of cancer are caught in earlier stages. I wish I had spent more time with my nani when she was healthier but am so thankful that I got to spend time with her this past December when I went home to India for the first time after six years. Growing up on the other side of the world from her, I’ve only had the opportunity to meet her a few times as a child and most of what I know and love about her comes from stories my mother has told me. I want to ride from Austin to Anchorage so that the money raised can go towards research that will allow other people to watch their loved ones recover and get another chance to spend time with the important people in their lives.
I also ride for the children and families at Special Cheers Occupational Therapy Centre. Although most of those children don't have cancer, they do have several other debilitating conditions that require the same kind of fight to overcome or live with. I volunteered at Special Cheers every summer while I was in high school and cherish the memories I have there. I ride for the Special Cheers families because they inspired me to have hope when things get difficult. I ride for the children at Special Cheers because they taught me to to smile through the toughest battles and laugh through the pain.