Each year CNN taps 10 people as its top everyday heroes. These folks are doing extraordinary things to help make their community better. This year one of them is a mountain bike coach.
According to a post on CNN.com, Craig Dodson is a former semi-professional cyclist who was asked to speak to a group of students at a recreation center in Richmond, Virginia. At the time he didn’t know that many of them lived in one of the city’s roughest housing projects and attended its lowest-performing schools, continued the CNN report.
“I walk in with my khakis and polo shirt,” Dodson recalled. “I start telling these kids, ‘Don’t do drugs and you can be just like me.’ They just looked at me like, ‘You idiot. There’s no bridge big enough to get me to where you are.'”
Dodson couldn’t shake the experience. That was in 2005.
Flash forward to today, and the 37-year-old has become a father figure to about 20 young people living in Richmond’s public housing. His nonprofit, the Richmond Cycling Corps, creates and coaches cycling teams for the most at-risk children living in the projects. Participants do extensive training, meeting multiple times a week for practice as well as competitions. While they work hard, the organization is about much more than cycling.
“We’re luring them in with a bike — but (it’s) not about giving kids positive life experiences through bikes,” said Dodson, who started the program in 2010. “Our job is to get them out of public housing.”
To learn more about this inspiring story, check out another video below. Also be sure to read the full CNN.com article and check out the Richmond Cycling Corps website — and make sure to vote for Dodson and help spread the word on how amazing mountain biking is.