When I was in elementary school, my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it was my first experience with the idea that life is not always guaranteed. I remember the sense of fear and uncertainty that cancer brought with it. My aunt was an important figure in my life because she taught me the power of kindness. As a graduate of one of the best medical schools in India, it would have been easy for her to practice in a wealthy neighborhood in Mumbai and live out a comfortable life. Instead she chose to practice by one of the largest slums in the world, and treat people who had little access to quality medical care. Her conviction that everyone, no matter their wealth, deserved equal treatment made a powerful impression on my worldview. I ride for my aunt, as well as for her vision of a world where anyone can be treated with dignity and respect, no matter where they come from.
Growing up, my grandfather would visit every spring from India. Every time he would visit, my grandfather, brother, and I would watch old Hollywood classics all day. Watching old war movies gave me a fascination with history that I still have. In sophomore year of high school, he came to our house on his annual visit when his health unexpectedly deteriorated. He had lung cancer, which had gone completely undiagnosed, and within weeks he was gone. He passed away at a time when I was just becoming old enough to appreciate the full wealth of his life. I could not ask him about his time as an economist in post-colonial Zambia, or his experience starting one of the first business schools in Maharashtra, or about the many other adventures of his life. I felt I had so many questions I still had, felt there were so many stories that I would never be able to hear. I ride for my grandfather, and in the hope that others will get the time they need to appreciate those around them.
Finally, a few weeks before I decided to apply to Texas 4000, Houston was hit by Hurricane Harvey. My neighborhood was one of the worst hit in the city, and the most surreal thing I have seen on TV is a reporter from CNN broadcasting just a few streets from my house. My family lost almost everything. The experience left me feeling powerless, and I hated it. I want to ride to give power back to those who feel it has been taken from them, to provide families with a source of hope and comfort during their darkest days.