LSC-O Instructor Rides for Cancer Research Funding
The sound of Lisette Hodges cycling shoes click-clacking on the tile floor of the Academic Center at Lamar State College – Orange announced that she arrived to work. With her Specialized Ruby bicycle hoisted on her shoulder, she weaved through groups of students gathered in the hallways on the way to her classroom.
The bicycle and shoes are not always part of Lisette’s teaching supplies, but she keeps them with her during the month of June when she participated in the Great Cycle Challenge, a nation-wide cancer research fundraiser.
This was Lisette’s third year to participate in the event and she challenged herself to ride 300 miles and raise $500.
When she rode during the Southeast Texas summer heat, Lisette, an instructor in the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Division at Lamar State College – Orange, focused on Austyn Halter, a 4-year-old from Southeast Texas who battled a rare form leukemia at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
During the month of the Great Cycle Challenge, both Austyn and Lisette were featured in Times Square in New York on an electronic billboard promoting each challenge participant and the person they are riding for.
Initially, Lisette only knew Austyn from #AustynStrong, the Facebook group created to keep family and friends updated on the little girl’s condition. As one of the 15,000 followers on the group page, Lisette was moved by photos of Austyn’s sweet smiles and by her parent’s strong faith during this trying time.
“I wanted to let her and her family know that we care about them and there are a lot of people working for her cure,” Lisette said. “We want her and all children who suffer from cancer to be well.”
Last year, Austyn received a stem cell transplant from her mother, Sarah, and was getting healthier and stronger. Then in December, the cancer returned and little Austyn continued to battle.
“You can’t help but get involved and want to do something,” Lisette said. “Cycling is what I can do. It’s something I do a lot and I just want to help.”
When word got around campus about Lisette riding for Austyn, Lisette made a connection - Austyn’s grandmother, Jennifer Trotter, is an instructor in the Upward Mobility Nursing Program at Lamar State College – Orange.
Lisette and Jennifer, who have both taught at Lamar State College – Orange for many years, have never crossed paths.
“I may not know Jennifer, but I care about her,” Lisette said.
From the hospital in Memphis where Jennifer was visiting Austyn, she emailed to thank Lisette for what she’s doing for Austyn and cancer research.
“We are so appreciative of Lisette and everyone at LSC-O’s interest in Austyn,” Jennifer wrote.
Dr. Michael Shahan, president of Lamar State College – Orange, said what Lisette did for Austyn is evidence of the strong culture and community on campus.
“I’m very proud,” he said. “We have a group of people here who care about each other and the community. They stand up and do what they can for those in need.”
Lisette met her 300-mile goal and received $500 over her initial goal.
Unfortunately, Austyn’s fight against the cancer ended on Friday, August 4 when she passed away.