Dream Team: Helping Youth Conquer RAGBRAI
By J. Sharpe Smith
The Dream Team, a grass roots organization that has been training youth to participate in RAGBRAI since 1997, is going strong this year with 44 young riders (17 young women, 27 young men) and 30 mentors.
The team, which benefits greatly from the sponsorship of RAGBRAI, Bike World, the Riverfront YMCA of Des Moines and a host of private donors and generous bike clubs, also gives back to the community. On a rainy, cold day, the group manned a water station to aid and encourage half-marathon runners in the Drake Relays. Later in the year, the team hosted and participated in the Mayor’s Annual Ride for Trails on another cold, rainy day. Upcoming community events include helping move books for the Franklin Public Library and performing trail clean up on Neil Smith Trail.
At the end of May, riders had already completed nearly 500 mile outdoors. That included a 120 mile round trip to the Boone YMCA. Riders faced headwinds of 30 mph on the way there, slept in tents in 40 degree temperatures and rode on yet another a cold and rainy day returning to Des Moines. A highlight of the trip was a hot lunch served in Luther served by ladies from the Luther Christian Church. Upcoming major training events include a ride and campout in Panora in June followed by a ride/campout to Sun Valley Lake in June (200 miles in three days!).
The Dream Team is not all work and no play. One of the group’s goals is develop fellowship among the riders. In February, riders took part in an ice skating event during indoor training. Upcoming fun includes an Iowa Cubs baseball game, roller skating party, a swimming party and a breakfast burrito ride.
For more information on how you can get involved in Dream Team or contribute to this program, visit www.dreamteamdsm.org
Sharpe Smith is a veteran mentor of the Dream Team and an avid cyclist from Des Moines.