After years of struggling to sit still, I was diagnosed with A.D.H.D. at eight years old. Failed prescriptions, struggling grades, and uncontrollable energy levels took a toll on everyone, especially me. At eleven, I began to feel the repercussions of my A.D.H.D. diagnosis become worse than the A.D.H.D. itself. So against doctor's orders, I opted out of medication altogether. I'd rather be myself, “A.D.H.D." and all.
The next few years proved to be especially difficult. My grades were so poor that I was on the verge of repeating a year of middle school. With all other options exhausted, my dad - a former bicycle racer, introduced me to the sport of cycling at thirteen years old as a way to blow off steam.
Cycling dramatically changed my life. At sixteen, I was recruited by the United States National Team to represent Team USA around the world, became a multi-time national and state champion, set a national record, and competed for my country in multiple World Cups and World Championships. Once I began competing, I accrued an eye-wateringly high number of missed school days. Not even that could keep my high school G.P.A. from skyrocketing to a 4.0 and earning me a spot on the principal’s honor roll. Best part of all, I did it medication free. Take that, doc.
My cycling career opened quite a number of doors for me along the way. In addition to representing to an incredible team sponsors, I was (for reasons beyond me) featured on energy bar wrappers, television commercials, and magazine spreads. In 2011, I launched the Born Wild Foundation in order to connect kids with ADHD to sport as an alternative to medication, which has since morphed into The Specialized Foundation. In 2012, I launched my first cycling accessories brand, ZEN Grips. Hard to believe that a few years prior, I was force-feeding myself A.D.H.D. medication in the school nurse's office.
After retiring from professional cycling in 2012, I was recruited to the marketing team of my long-time sponsor, Oakley. Towards the latter half of my tenure at Oakley, a 2014 trip to Israel gave me first-hand exposure to the Gaza-Israel Conflict. Invigorated from the experience, I felt an urgency to tell stories beyond sunglasses - and focus on moving the needle for social justice and environmental change. As fate would have it, I soon discovered that a few thousand employees and I were being laid off. My last day at the office, November 2, 2015, was spent packing my desk and driving straight to the local camera store with my severance package. Needless to say, I spent it all on camera gear.
Since that day, my focus has been to tell stories about moments that matter to me through photography and television production.
In case you were wondering - yes, I still love to ride my bike.