“Every time you get on that bike, know that you are a winner” – Kittie Weston, Dream Team mentor

Michael Borts’ and Jordan Wolgamuth and their mentor Kittie Weston completed RAGBRAI on Saturday. As  first-year riders on the Dream Team, Michael and Jordan had many great memories this year on RAGBRAI and Dream Team; in her 34th year on RAGBRAI, Kittie says that all the  riders are winners, each and every time they pedal.   

Jordan Wolgamuth and Michael Borts

Jordan Wolgamuth and Michael Borts, first-year Dream Team members.

Kittie Weston, Dream Team mentor

How’ve you seen your mentees grow over the weeks of training?  They’ve become team members and gotten more involved in the activities that we do together on Dream Team as well. 

Have you done RAGBRAI before?  This is my 34th year doing RAGBRAI and my 4th year on the Dream Team.

If someone hasn’t heard of Dream Team before, how would you describe the experience? Dream Team is an opportunity for young adults to develop self-confidence, start a task and complete it, and understand the reward is participating in something and working towards its completion.

Favorite Dream Team experience thus far:  The best experience has been watching the young men accept the support we offer, seeing them take on leadership and knowing that they are enjoying themselves.

Essential RAGBRAI item?  Maintaining a positive attitude!

Piece of advice ?  Every time you get on that bike, know that you are a winner. I want the Dream Team to know that every time they pedal they are winners. The challenge is against themselves, not others. It’s not about beating someone else but facing the challenges along the way.

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First-year Dream Team rider: Michael Borts

What are you looking forward to most on RAGBRAI? I am used to doing a lot of things individually, but on RAGBRAI you really have to function as a group.

What is the coolest experience you’ve had so far on Dream Team?  The Dream Team trip to Sun Valley – at night, the city lights are gone you could see all the stars in the sky. In the city, you are lucky to see 2 or 3 stars at night.

What is the one essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? Books (Edgar Allen Poe and William James), a flashlight and a Japanese board game called ‘Go’.

Favorite quote: “If words are no better than silence, then one should remain silent.”

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First-year Dream Team rider: Jordan Wolgamuth

What is the first word that pops into you head when you think ‘Dream Team’? Family. All of us have gotten close over the months.

How have you seen yourself grow over the past few months? My endurance has definitely gotten better.

What is the coolest experience you’ve had so far on Dream Team?  While on RAGBRAI in Perry, we went down this huge slip and slide. Also, we saw someone on RAGBRAI on a unicycle.

What is the one essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? Sunglasses.

 Most unexpected thing about RAGBRAI: You’ve never seen this many people in one place; people are just going on for miles and miles!

Dream Team is Spontaneous, Inspiring and Full of Boundless Energy! – featuring mentor Sonja Ruhland and rider Anessa Perry

Throughout RAGBRAI this week we will feature some of our first-year Dream Team 2013 riders and their mentors. Mentor Sonja Ruhland participates in her 3rd full RAGBRAI and applauds the Team’s boundless energy; first-year rider Anessa Perry finishes RAGBRAI with an infectious smile and confidence while keeping things simple with pancakes and knee-high socks.

Anessa Perry - Dream Team member

First-year rider Anessa Perry takes a break after arriving in Des Moines while on RAGBRAI.

Interview with mentor Sonja Ruhland

How’ve you seen Anessa grow over the weeks of training? She’s grown socially. Anessa is now more likely to reach out to her peers. She seems more confident in new situations and more self-assured.

How does she motivate you? Anessa motivates me be continuing even when she wants to give up and her infectious smile!

How many years have you participated in RAGBRAI? This will be my 3rd full RAGBRAI, but training with the youth is so different. They can ride all day and still goof around all night whereas I’m exhausted. Their energy is endless!

If someone hasn’t heard of Dream Team before, how would you describe it in a sentence? An organization giving youth the tools and support to succeed-setting a goal in a safe and supportive environment.

Favorite Dream Team experience thus far: This past weekend in Sun Valley there were youth from several different ‘groups’ all together having fun.

What is your essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? A good pair of cycling shorts.

Favorite quote or advice? I have several: Live the life you’ve always dreamed. Be the change you want to see in the world. A verse from the Bible – What does the Lord require of you? Do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.

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Interview with Dream Team member Anessa Perry

What is the first word that pops into you head when you think ‘Dream Team’? Spontaneous and inspiring.

What are you looking forward to most RAGBRAI? Pancakes.

What is the coolest experience you’ve had so far on Dream Team? Riding with all the different mentors and you get to learn lots, especially with older mentors that know lots.

What’s it been like working with your mentor? Fun and educational

What is the one essential item that you are bringing with you on the trip? Knee high striped  socks.

Favorite song? Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Smile and Butt Butter on RAGBRAI – featuring mentor Andrew White and rider Hunter Erwine

Throughout RAGBRAI this week we will feature some of our first-year Dream Team 2013 riders and their mentors. In his second year participating in RAGBRAI, mentor Andrew White encourages riders to keep a useful perspective when encountering challenges; he enjoys helping teens reach their potential through goal setting. First-year rider Hunter Erwine’s is having a great time on Dream Team and has continued to grow throughout the training season. You’ll also find out that each has a secret weapon while on RAGBRAI…

Hunter Erwine - first year rider

Dream Team member Hunter Erwine

How have you seen Hunter grow over the weeks of training? I’ve seen how Hunter and every rider I’ve had the opportunity to train with has grown to be both physically and mentally prepared for whatever Iowa roads and summer weather can throw at them. Having grown up in Iowa that to me is a most impressive feat!

How do you help motivate each other? I always try and offer perspective and advice on how I approach a challenge without making it sound like the only way to approach a challenge. Seeing all of the Riders accomplish so much motivates me most of all. I wish I had the opportunity to do something like the Dream Team when I was their age.

How many years have you participated on RAGBRAI?  It is my second RAGBRAI. Training this year has reinforced the lessons I learned the prior year about how much of a positive influence I can have on the lives of others through persistence and dedication.

If someone hasn’t heard of Dream Team before, how would you describe it? Helping teenagers learn what it means to set and achieve long-term goals through training for and going on RAGBRAI.

Favorite Dream Team experience thus far: Hearing from a rider how they never would have believed in March what they could do in July until they did it.

What is your essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? My smile.

Favorite piece of advice? Always try and keeps things in a useful perspective because that’s the one thing you always have control over.

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Interview with first-year rider Hunter Erwine

What is the first word that pops into you head when you think ‘Dream Team’? Awesome opportunity.

What are you looking forward to most RAGBRAI? Definitely the great food!

What is the coolest experience you’ve had so far on Dream Team? Finally getting to Greenie’s and being able to swim.

What’s it been like working with your mentor? It’s been great. He informs me of what is going on Dream Team all the time.

What is the one essential item that you are bringing with you on the trip? Butt butter for sure! Haha!

“Always try your hardest and never give up” – Nikki Barcus, first-year Dream Team rider

Throughout RAGBRAI this week we will feature some of our first year Dream Team 2013 riders and their mentors. Mentor Andrea Kuehn describes how first-year rider Nikki Barcus has impacted the Dream Team. Andrea has participated in 12 RAGBRAIs thus far. While she won’t be riding this year, she has trained with the Dream Team and Nikki these past months:

Nikki, first-year Dream Team rider

Nikki, first-year Dream Team rider

How’ve you seen Nikki grow over the weeks of training? Nikki was athletic when she started Dream Team and she has always been extremely upbeat and enthusiastic, so I have so say that most of the obvious growth that I’ve seen in her is as a rider.  Her endurance and speed have definitely increased since we started riding in April.

How do you help motivate Nikki? How does Nikki motivate you? He enthusiasm is contagious.  She’s also a very self -motivated person. It makes her very easy to mentor.

If someone hasn’t heard of Dream Team before, how would you describe it? Dream Team helps youth set and reach goals in a fun, caring environment.  There are few experiences quite like Dream Team.

Favorite Dream Team experienceFinishing RAGBRAI last year, lining up to ride down to the river, and seeing how proud everybody was of themselves.

What is your essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? Were I going on RAGBRAI this year I’d be taking my headlamp for those late night bathroom runs.

Favorite piece of advice? Try to keep you sense of humor.  Even when things seem to be at their worst, being able to laugh about the ridiculous situation tends to make everything seem less overwhelming. This is true for really long rides on really hot, windy days, or just life in general.

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Here’s Nikki’s take on Dream Team and RAGBRAI:

What is the first word that pops into you head when you think ‘Dream Team’? Family.

What are you looking forward to most RAGBRAI? Getting closer with everyone and having fun. Everyone is so nice it’s hard not to have fun.

What is the coolest experience you’ve had so far on Dream Team? Greenie’s ride was one of the coolest things, honestly.

What’s it been like working with your mentor? Well, I’d have to say my mentor is the coolest mentor. She’s super sweet!

What is the one essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? Water bottles – Staying hydrated is the most important thing on dream team/RAGBRAI!

Favorite quote or song or piece of advice? The best advice I’ve gotten is always try your hardest and never give up — at the end of the ride it’s so worth it and you feel great about yourself.

“It is the most important thing you may potentially do in a lifetime” – James Hart, Dream Team Mentor

 Throughout RAGBRAI this week we will feature some of our first year Dream Team 2013 riders and their mentors. James Hart, Dream Team mentor, describes how Kathy Frank, first-year rider, has grown over the past few months of training. James Hart is a veteran RAGBRAIer (34 years) and he is passionate about contributing to his community and impacting the lives of youth positively. Here is what he had to say about working with Kathy:

Kathy Frank conquers Sleepy Hollow Hill

A round of high fives after Kathy Frank (middle) conquered Sleepy Hollow Hill, by the Iowa State Fair fairgrounds, for the first time without stopping! On the right is James Hart, her Dream Team mentor, and on the left is Kathy’s brother.

How have you seen Kathy grow over the weeks of training? Kathy has grown from just learning to ride a bike with gears to being able to ride 85+ miles in a day in the Iowa heat and wind.

How do you help motivate Kathy? By always giving her a smile, NEVER giving up, giving her encouragement and being her friend.

How does Kathy motivate you? She motivates me by seeing her growing in her confidence, skill, determination and ability to relate to others on the team.  If there was a nomination process, I would nominate her for most improved.

Favorite Dream Team experience thus far:  Riding with Kathy when she rode her bike up Sleepy Hollow Hill by the fairgrounds for the first time without stopping!

What is your essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip?  Sense of humor and determination to get everyone to the Mississippi River without losing anyone!

What would you say to someone interested in volunteering on Dream Team?  My advice is to all adults: get involved in helping our youth in the communities we live in.  They need adults to be good role models and to show them the way.  Along the way, the youth will help us in ways we will treasure.

If someone hasn’t heard of Dream Team before, how would you describe it ?  The Dream Team helps youth be better prepared for life’s challenges through physical exercise, team building, developing social skills and personal determination.  It is the most important thing you may potentially do in your lifetime.

First Year Rider Profiles – Andrew VanNice and Dream Team Mentor Jason Scholbrock

Andrew - Dream Team First Year Riders

Andrew – First-year Dream Team rider

Throughout RAGBRAI this week we will feature some of our first year Dream Team 2013 riders and their mentors. All the best to rider Andrew on his first RAGBRAI! 

First year Dream Team rider: Andrew VanNice

What is the first word that pops into you head when you think ‘Dream Team’? Bicycle.

What are you looking forward to most RAGBRAI? Going through the different towns.

What is the coolest experience you’ve had so far on Dream Team? We had the chance to zipline at St. Thomas More campout.

What has it been like working with your mentor? All the mentors have been nice.

What is the one essential item, other than the bike, that you are bringing with you on the trip? Water!

Best piece of advice for Dream Team/RAGBRAI? Drink water!!

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Mentor Interview: Jason Scholbrock

How’ve you seen your Andrew grow over the weeks of training? Andrew has become a physically stronger rider. He has also opened up, made lots of friends, and become more vocal. He is a great member of the Dream Team.

How do you motivate Andrew? How does Andrew motivate you? It doesn’t take much to motivate Andrew. He’s a hard worker and complains rarely. I think the friends he’s made (and their singing together) is a good motivator for him. It motivates me to see all of the youth on the Dream Team grow – both physically and mentally.

Have you done RAGBRAI before? This will be my third time riding on RAGBRAI. As an avid cyclist I was prepared for my first two years but unlike other years I hit the 1,000 mile training mark before RAGBRAI this year. I feel the youth and mentors alike are well prepared physically and mentally.

If someone hasn’t heard of Dream Team before, how would you describe the experience? It’s the team on RAGBRAI where dreams really do come true!

Favorite Dream Team experience thus far: Riding back from Sun Valley (Ellston, IA) was a breeze – literally. Especially compared to Friday it was nice to rack up some good miles on Sunday in favorable conditions. The riders were so much more upbeat and they knew if they could handle the ride to Sun Valley they could do all of RAGBRAI. It was fun to see the way their attitudes changed.

Essential RAGBRAI item? A water bottle? In all seriousness, I’ll be bringing some Chamois Butt’r. By the end of the week it’s a real lifesaver!

Favorite quote ? “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt (I think this is particularly relevant to the Dream Team because so much of what we do is just mentally motivating and encouraging the youth that they can accomplish anything they set out to do.)

 

Dream Team Featured on WHO TV

Last weekend 44 young people who are part of the 2013 Dream Team completed the final step in preparation for their goal to ride a bicycle across Iowa.  The team completed a near 200 mile ride in 3 days to the home of former RAGBRAI Director Jim Green, and his wonderful wife Judy. The ride had it all, trails, hills, head wind and lots of sun as they traveled from Des Moines, IA to Ellston, IA, and camped for two nights at Sun Valley Lake.

There was also plenty of time for team building and fun. The team spent many hours having fun in the water and on Saturday night the team played a fun game called ‘Bag of Good Feelings’.KF_IMG_2397 Each of the riders created inspirational messages of encouragement for their other team members and then placed those messages in a paper bag for that teammate. Later that night before each of the youngsters fell asleep in their tent, they read the messages and reflected on the long journey they started 5 months ago and the huge goal that is in front of them right now.

At the start of the ride the team was extremely happy to have along Sonya Heitshusen who rode with us and spent some time interviewing the riders and the mentors about this wonderful program. The video was featured as part of the WHO TV Weekly Workout segment and you can click here to see it. The team Thanks Sonya and her camera crew for taking the time to spend time and ride with us so we could share this inspirational story.

Sponsors and donors provide 100% of the funding for these activities and without them it would not be possible. The support of the community, friends and family enable the Dream Team to empower young adults to set goals, work hard, and DREAM BIG! Your tax deductible contribution is used to support the goals of the youth and the program. Visit our Donate page for more information about supporting our organization.

Dream Team Receives Ronald McDonald House Charities Grant

The Dream Team was recently award a grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Central Iowa for 2013. The Mission of the Ronald McDonald House Charity is “to enrich the quality of life for children and their families”.

The Dream Team is very excited and thankful to receive this grant. Both organizations are keenly focused on helping children in Central Iowa. The Dream Team will utilize this grant to support the kids in the program as they prepare to achieve their goal of riding a bicycle across Iowa during RAGBRAI 41. The mentors and youth have been preparing for nearly 4 months and have made incredible friends, memories and lifelong habits focused on healthy living.

The Dream Team is a non profit program of the YMCA and our goals would not be possible without the support of our sponsors and donors. Please visit Donate to Dream Team and we hope we have your support in 2013.

Dream Team Dancing

On or off the bicycle, the Dream Team stays healthy by having fun!! The team participated in some team building activities that included roller skating, the Harlem shake and the cha-cha-cha! A sincere thank you to one of our wonderful volunteers, Carylann Mucha, for planning and organizing the event.

Sponsors and donors provide 100% of the funding for these activities and without them it would not be possible. The support of the community, friends and family enable the Dream Team to empower young adults to set goals, work hard, and DREAM BIG! Your tax deductible contribution is used to support the goals of the youth and the program. Visit our Donate page for more information about supporting our organization.

Harlem Shake

The Cha-Cha-Cha

 

Tragic House Fire Takes Life of Former Dream Teamer

nyakouthIt is with great sadness to report that the Dream Team lost one of their former members in a tragic house fire. Nyakouth Choul, 17, was found by firefighters inside a home in Boone. Chuol transferred from East High School in Des Moines to Future’s Alternative High School in Boone in March. Nyakouth last rode with the Dream Team in 2011.

Nyakouth was a fun spirited and very intelligent young lady who often preferred to be called “Martha”.  She will be missed by her Dream Team teammates and mentors. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends.

MEMORIAL FUND

A memorial fund has been established to help pay for funeral expenses for Nyakouth. Money gathered will also help buy new clothes and personal items for the surviving woman who lived in the house and lost her belongings. Money can be sent to Youth & Shelter Services, 420 Kellogg Ave., Ames, IA 50014.