Building Character with Each Mile

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By Reann Huber

staff writer

embers of Bike Ride Across Georgia’s (BRAG) Dream Team took part in this year’s BRAG event in June from Atlanta to Savannah alongside their coaches and 1,000 other riders.

Neil Walker, Director of Cycling Programming for North Central Georgia, and seven other coaches took the challenge of riding 370 miles with their Madison BRAG Dream Team of 19 kids from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta all the way to Savannah in Southeast Georgia.

“Bicycling is a great way to see the state of Georgia and to learn about the various history those towns or cities have contributed to the development of the state,” said Walker.

All of those who participated were able to see the different towns and cities of Georgia and see the people of Social Circle, Milledgeville, Dublin, Swainsboro, Statesboro, and Savannah.

The riders averaged about 65 miles per day for their week long trip and faced quite a few difficulties along the way, including the heat and hills.

“The first three days were very difficult and the hills were responsible for the difficulty,” said Coach Cyndi Bowen. “Our kids were ready for the challenge. They practiced several days a week and participated in training rides in Atlanta and Stone Mountain and Rutledge to get ready for the multiple hills.”

Along with training for the hills and the long rides, the group also had to get used to camping, and getting up early enough to eat breakfast and start riding by 7:30 a.m. each morning.

“It is different and the adjustment takes a bit of getting used to but if you don’t do it, you will be out there in the heat longer than the rest of the teams and then we have to wait longer before we can go and eat,” said Amari Gresham, a rider in the Madison group.

Since this group proved that they can still go the same distance as everyone else even with all the difficulties, people along the way stopped to ask about the ages of the kids taking part in this journey and find out more about them.

“Many people are amazed at our group and are always asking for our age,” said 16-year-old Demarco Murray who is a member of Madison’s Boys and Girls Club.

“Lots of people want to get to know us, especially since I’m a girl and we only have four girls on the team riding this year,” said another Boys and Girls Club member, Jarai Colbert.

The members of the BRAG Dream Team continue to do incredible things with bicycling, including an over 700-mile ride along the East Coast Greenway during the Gullah Geechee Youth Bike Tour earlier in July.

“The members, who have academic and behavioral standards to maintain to be able to participate in the rides, reflected on lessons learned from the Dream Team experience,” said Nancy Vaughan, board member of the Boys and Girls Club. “Jarod Sanders, a MCMS student, credited the Dream Team experience with learning more about working as a team member and striving to meet a goal.”

The Dream Team continues to be a success for the kids in Madison, and they continue to work harder together as a team in something that they all enjoy and can learn from.

“This is the third year of the Madison Boys and Girls Club cycling team and every year it seems to get better as more kids want to be involved with our program,” said Walker. “The success of the program has been so great that it will be expanded to the Boys and Girls Clubs in the area.”

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