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In 1996, a concern for disadvantaged and at risk youth led a small group of bicycle enthusiasts from RAGBRAI®, Bike World and the Riverfront YMCA in Des Moines to discuss how these youngsters could participate in RAGBRAI® . They wanted youth, who otherwise would not have the opportunity, to experience the sense of fellowship, accomplishment and goal setting that participation in RAGBRAI® brings. Working as a grassroots organization, they successfully obtained equipment, then recruited and trained youth to participate as the first Dream Team in RAGBRAI XXV in 1997. Since that year, between 20-30 youth participants have successfully completed RAGBRAI® each year.
The group chose as their mission statement:
To assist youth in developing a healthy spirit, mind and body by developing a productive, positive approach to life’s challenges through preparation for and participation in RAGBRAI® as members of The Dream Team
Recruiting new team members starts in the fall of each year. The youth participants are recruited through the Des Moines school system, through programs such as SUCCESS and Gear-Up, counselors, after school programs, church groups, and through the court advocate system. Participants range in age from 13 to 18, and the number of youth participating each year is dependent on the number of adult mentors and funds available.
Training starts in mid-February with 6 weeks of indoor training 2 nights a week. In early April the outdoor training starts. Indoor training stops and the team rides outside 2 nights a week plus a ride on Saturday. Once a month in May, June and July, the team participates in overnight campouts to help prepare for tent camping on RAGBRAI®.
All of the equipment needed to get started in cycling and participate in the training and RAGBRAI® is provided at no cost to the participants or their family. In addition, all meals and fees for RAGBRAI® are covered by the program. At the end of RAGBRAI®, those who have successfully completed the ride take home all of the equipment they used during training along with the memories of the experience. These young
people now have the ability and the equipment to maintain a healthy lifestyle as well as the ability to set and obtain long range goals.
For more information on the Dream Team, visit the official web site.