Lauren Winters

Rider Profile
HometownFreeport, IL
UniversityUniversity of Illinois
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I was born and raised in the town of the Freeport Pretzels, a north-western town close to Rockford, Illinois. I have an amazing family- my mom, dad, and younger brother (by six years) that has always been there giving me their constant love and support. I grew up playing the piano and in middle school I became very interested in sports, especially tennis. In high school I played on the varsity tennis team all four years and also had fun playing soccer. However it was tennis that led me to attend Nike Tennis Camp in Champaign, Illinois where I set my sights on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. That was more than five years ago, and now I am finishing up my last semester at the University of Illinois! In December I will be graduating with a major in Communication with a concentration in health and a minor in Spanish. Along the incredible ride I have managed to visit Spain, meet some of my best friends in college, get a waitressing job at Timpone’s, study abroad in Ecuador, learn Spanish, meet my now fiancée, and figure out that I really want to get involved with public health. My mom tells me that nothing I do can surprise her now (especially after my semester abroad in Ecuador). It has been quite the journey and upon my upcoming graduation I do not want it to stop here. So what a better way, than to ride a bike across the United States?!?! I have been drawn to the Illini 4000 ever since my friends told me about it freshman year, and every year I came up with an excuse such as I will be too busy to go away an entire summer. But I believe that you only live once and I do not want to look back and regret passing up an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime. I cannot imagine a better summer than riding my (well soon- to- have) bike 4500 miles with a group of amazing individuals to raise awareness for cancer.

Personal Statement

I believe that practically everyone at least knows someone affected or has been affected by cancer. I do. I know many- and I know that no words that I can write can express the pain or loss the disease can inflict on a person and the person’s loved ones. This ride is dedicated to them and to everyone else who has ever been affected by the disease. This disease is unforgiving, unrelenting, unbearable and unbiased. Cancer is a common denominator that does not look at race, or age, or socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation, or religion. It is a battle all of us need to fight, until we find a cure. I may not be a scientist, or a lab technician, but I do know that every little thing can make a difference- no matter if that difference be inspiration and hope to a cancer patient or a donation to help fund crucial research. Every person, every penny, every mile, every story can make a difference. And I hope with all my heart that one day that difference will ultimately lead to a cure.