Mason prepares for journey of courage, devotion
By Tim Emmons
Alexis Mason -- or to most who know of her from this area, Lexie -- has been on quite a ride since graduating from Atlanta High School in 2013.
As life goes, little did she know the ride would be wrought with sadness, life-altering measures, and perplexing circumstances that would lead to a devotion to make a bike ride take on such significant meaning: courageousness, endless perseverance and never-ending compassion for many inflicted with diseases across the world.
She was born and raised in Atlanta -- which is known for being the “Gateway to the Piney Woods” -- and has quite an ambitious set of goals she would like to reach and things which she truly adores.
“I am blessed to say I have a family large in size and they give support towards my many ambitions. Alongside the rigor encapsulated in school I keep many things in my life to find fullness of joy all around,” Mason said. “I work in a running store, absolutely adore the feeling of escape that running provides. I am obsessed with dogs, golden retrievers to be exact, and flowers are at the top of my ‘favorite things’ list.”
“One day I’d love to write a book and I love to wander in new places I’ve never been before. This randomly constructed list is just a few of the reasons I find myself full of thanks, happiness and wonder.”
After high school Mason enrolled at the University of Arkansas, but during her inaugural year in college she was rushed to a local emergency room where she would be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
“I constantly have bruises on my stomach from the daily insulin injections I give myself because I am a Type 1 diabetic,” Mason said.
This may have been a confusing and strange turn for her since she was a conditioned athlete who ran cross country and track throughout her school years.
This event re-shaped her life and sent her down a different path than planned.
Mason made the choice to transfer to the University of Texas, change her career path and develop a compassionate heart for health. Mason, who would rather people call her Lex, is a senior at UT and is studying nutrition and aspiring to apply to medical school in the coming years.
Just as Mason’s new path seemed to be shaping up, another unexpected curveball was thrown at the young athlete’s family.
“In April of 2016, I lost my No. 1 fan, my Tutu (grandmother in Hawaiian). Cancer attacked her body and cut her story shorter than deserved,” Mason said. “She was the loud voice who was enthusiastically supportive of literally all of my endeavors.”
This event coupled with her own battles led Mason to something called the Texas 4000, which is a bike ride mission to cultivate student leaders and engage communities in the fight against cancer.
The Texas 4000 envisions a world where all students can become leaders in creating a cancer-free future, and the riders share hope, knowledge and charity through leadership development, grantmaking, and their cornerstone event, a 4,000-plus mile bike ride from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska.
This event caught the attention of Mason, who adopted the meaning of the ride and made it a point to join for a cause much bigger than any of us.
“My Tutu always got overly excited and re-astonished that I wanted to bike to Alaska,” Mason said. “My petite Hawaiian/Asian grandmother would bounce her knees whilst massaging her lower thigh muscles and say ‘Ahhhlexis!’ ‘Your legs!’ ‘I’m so excited for you!’ ‘I’m so proud of you!’ ‘Your legs!’”
“I feel deep inside me, not only how much I miss her, but how having to say goodbye to her because of cancer makes this ride exponentially more meaningful than before,” Mason said. “I could so very easily write pages and pages of my Tutu’s great legacy and love. She was one of those people you meet and do not forget.”
Mason continued, “I ride for the awareness, prevention, and treatment of disease. I ride because I do not want to be a helpless bystander but rather one of the many that offer to take cancer by the horns and do something about it. I ride for that ceaseless sense of striving for a world free of cancer.”
Since that time of sadness, more reasons have fueled Mason’s desire to ride for a cause.
“I ride for one of my dear friends, Mal. Her sister, MacKenzie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 4,” Mason remarked. “MacKenzie beat the grim prognosis and gave Mallory a different outlook, challenging her to cherish not only her sister more but all others in her life.
“I ride for Maggie, one of my best friends. She held close to her, like a brother, the brave soul that will forever be remembered in the hearts of my hometown and anyone that knew Hunter Watkins. He was diagnosed with cancer that soon became very aggressive almost three years ago,” Mason continued. “I know the courageous guy he was would fully support this completely outrageous task I have set before myself. Throughout his daunting fight against cancer he continued to quote the phrase ‘YOLO’ (you only live once).
“Lastly, I ride for all of the people I will meet along the way that are/have been affected by cancer that cannot ride to Alaska as I travel my Texas 4000 journey,” Mason said.
Mason has more than enough fuel and desire to make it 4,000 miles, plus some -- and from what she’s faced it all comes down to a divine purpose.
“I now find myself here countless finger pricks and endless insulin injections later, thankful for what all this disease has allowed me to experience,” Mason said. “The combination of a concept I value so deeply and a quote help me to find purpose in every moment I am alive. Purpose to me, is everything. I long to forever proclaim the excellencies of the One who created us, and Jesus who gives an everlasting fountain of assurance, hope, and purpose.”
The quote: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.” –Rudyard Kipling.
Mason is the daughter of Dr. Matthew Hogan and Karen Hogan and Rob Mason and Tammy Mason. She is the granddaughter of (Nana) Jeri Mason and (Papaw) Danny Mason and
(Papaw) Kermit Duane Adcock and (her Tutu) the late Katherine Adcock.
For more information about the Texas 4000 please visit www.texas4000.org.