TILF Success Stories: Meet Logan DeBord
Posted by Trudy Richards on 05/05/2015
A three-time UIL Academic State champion in high school, Logan DeBord was an unstoppable force from the beginning of his involvement in UIL during elementary school. “I was involved in the precursors to high school academic events even in elementary school—things like Music Memory, Listening Skills, and Maps, Graphs, & Charts,“ he said.
His appreciation continued into high school, where the world of UIL events helped drive his love of learning. “UIL made me much more receptive of the world outside of my hometown. I drove forty minutes to and from high school every day, so I would absorb news stories from NPR in order to prepare for Current Issues. It made me want to go and experience the world, perhaps meeting someone from Libya instead of just hearing about the Arab Spring on the radio.”
Experiencing the world hands-on is just what Logan did. He took the skills he developed through competing in Cross Examination Debate from Vanderbilt Industrial High School all the way to the University of Sydney as part of a study abroad program in which he became part of the “parliamentary debate team with an Australian and American partner,” he said.
The excellence he exhibited during his time as a competitor paid off upon learning that he had been awarded the Mike A. Myers Foundation Scholarship through TILF. “I was very happy to learn that the Foundation had decided to invest in my education. I had the opportunity to meet Mike A. Myers at the last TILF Scholars banquet, and he’s done a tremendous amount of work for the UT community (as well as the Parkland hospital in Dallas where he resides). The Myers Foundation scholarship helped offset much of the cost of my undergraduate education—I was able to spend more time studying and participate in extracurriculars rather than get a part-time job. It was really instrumental to getting me where I am today,” Logan said.
Now a graduating senior majoring in Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, Logan was recently accepted into the Baylor College of Medicine. Alongside this astounding accomplishment, he plans to round out his senior year by partaking in the Texas 4000 for Cancer, “a 4,500+ mile bike ride from Austin, TX to Anchorage, AK (the world’s longest annual charity ride),” Logan said. Texas 4000’s mission is to raise money for cancer research and support services, while serving as a leadership development program for students to become more active both in their communities and in the fight against cancer.
“This organization is unique because it puts students at the very forefront of its fundraising efforts. A large portion of our donations support the MD Anderson Cancer Center, and our team was lucky enough to visit many of the kids being treated there last October. We’ll also encounter some of our beneficiaries during the summer ride, like Brent’s Place (which provides free Safe and Clean housing for immune-compromised patients) in Colorado and retreat participants from Young Adult Cancer Canada,” Logan said.
Logan has served as his team’s Community Engagement Chair for the past several months. As a team they have worked to provide “a volunteer force for race and cancer-related events, scripting and delivering [their] program of cancer prevention and early detection to local schools, facilitating free skin cancer screenings on campus, and coordinating an April event called Hope Day that brings cancer resource booths and fun activities to a farmer’s market in East Austin,” he said.
In addition to raising awareness and fundraising, Logan has also been hard at work preparing for the ride itself. The preparation is grueling, with the team having to complete “skills clinics put on by alumni, a weekend training camp under the coaching of professional cyclists, and mandatory Saturday rides as well as optional weekly rides,” Logan said.
However, the hard work is made worthwhile in memory of Logan’s close friend, Kory Kubecka, who passed away after a long battle with leukemia. “Kory is always the one on my mind whenever I see a big hill on the horizon. I ride so that someday other kids in his situation might have a chance to receive the best possible treatment in the future,” he said.
Logan is working to better the care provided to cancer patients, both on and off the bike. “I had the opportunity to shadow a medical oncologist last January and it was the most hopeful, patient-centered field I’ve seen yet. My long-term plan is to work with Doctors Without Borders or Mercy Ships, which seeks to provide free health care and improve health delivery systems in the poorest nations in Africa,” he said. Currently, he is interested in studying cancer treatment during his time at the Baylor College of Medicine, but is keeping an open mind in terms of the future.
For now, Logan is focused on completing the 70-day journey with the rest of his Texas 4000 team, as they have worked throughout the year to each “raise a minimum of $4,500 for cancer research and support services, log 1,500 training miles, and reach 50 volunteer hours at race and cancer-related events,” he said.
Alongside his own training, Logan is excited to share the experience with a special guest who will be joining him for the first 25 miles of his ride. “I helped my mom pick out a hybrid bike, and I’m proud to say that she’ll be joining me for the 25-mile option. My mom is a breast cancer survivor of eight years, so it’s going to be really exciting to complete the first leg of my journey alongside her.”
From Vanderbilt to Anchorage, Logan’s determination to better the world is felt manifold. However, he always goes back to his UIL roots. “I’ve continued involvement with UIL by judging speech and debate tournaments across South and Central Texas,” he said.
Logan’s desire to learn about and impact the world is a lifelong lesson he took away from UIL. Through his involvement with Texas 4000, he has come to realize that “the reach of cancer and determination to fight it within the people we encounter never fails to impress.”
To learn more about Logan’s story and/or donate to Texas 4000’s efforts, click here.
Information about becoming involved in the ATLAS Ride of the Texas 4000 can be found here.
Written by Katarina Antolovic