Helping at-risk teenagers is what some would call difficult. But not the Start the Cycle group.
The volunteers and officials with Start the Cycle are contributing their time, talents, and resources, weekly, to support and communicate with at-risk Upper Peninsula teens.
The program is a way to show teens how to be part of the community. Start the Cycle is designed to be a challenge for at-risk teens by introducing them to mountain biking.
Teen participant, Clay Overmyer, said, "I'm hoping to make this into something bigger. The first time I started doing this I was like, it might be fun, but now I'm starting to get into it more every week. I'm getting more progress out of it."
"We have a bunch of new kids in the community, also wanting to give back, and so when you call it "Start the Cycle," it really is a cycle that they're beginning here. We help them, they give back, and then maybe the next group will, they'll help the next group," said fundraiser Julie Maynard.
The participants have been practicing weekly. The ultimate goal is to get them to complete the Ore to Shore race in August.
At-risk teens often lack the kind of mentoring and challenge that allow them to experience success. But with Start the Cycle, participants have volunteers, donors, and mentors at their sides to learn new skills.
The mentors are wonderful role models in the community.
"When I have gone and watched them, I know that this is worth it. They're working so hard, and they really want to achieve, and so helping them to get there, I believe, it takes a village to raise a child, and I'm hoping I'm part of the village," said Marketing Director Laura MacDonald.
Owner of Cycle Soleil, Theresa Coates, said, "I don't think words can describe. Seeing the kids' progress, seeing how they're doing, seeing them work with each other, just growing and maturing."
More volunteers and funding are still needed.
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