Helping underprivileged kids through cycling
For Craig Dodson, cycling isn’t just a sport, it’s a platform for change. And through his organization, Richmond Cycling Corps, change is what he brings to inner-city kids in Richmond, Virginia. Craig creates and coaches cycling teams for the most at-risk youth living in public housing.
“Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.” is the organizational mantra. It speaks to both his dedication to working with them through all of the ups and downs, as well as his approach to getting things done in life. Hard work, discipline, stamina and commitment are just some of the attributes that he teaches these kids through cycling.
“We get the toughest kids to work with. There’s not a week that goes by where I don’t break down and cry.”
Growing up, all Craig dreamed of being was a professional racer. But now, he uses his love of cycling for a much larger purpose. “My inspiration used to come from the bike racers I idolized when I was younger. I knew all their stats and I wanted to be a pro just like them. But after years of working with these kids, I’m now so much more inspired by them and what they can do. I know what they go through every day and I see how hard they push themselves at practice and in races, despite how much baggage they carry with them. They inspire me a thousand times more than these guys on posters on my bedroom wall ever did,” he said.
“We get the toughest kids to work with. Most of their moms are heroin addicts or their dads are in jail or dead. There’s not a week that goes by where I don’t break down and cry. You know what’s happening in their lives and what they’re going through behind the scenes.”
“That’s the moment where you know…that’s what we do and that’s why we do it.”
“Just yesterday, this kid who I’ve been working with for seven years, who has been through five lifetime's worth of bad stuff, had to do four laps on the bike through the mountains. In the middle of his second lap, his seat breaks. He had no seat on his bike at this point and had every reason to quit. I quit when I was younger and that happened to me, and I didn’t have a heroin addict mom or live in public housing. He straight up destroyed that race without a seat and the crowd at the race went bananas for him. That’s the moment where you know…that’s what we do and that’s why we do it.”
“When I get sick, I get worried… I know I can’t shut it down.”
These kids, as well as his staff, count on Craig to be there every day. “When I get sick, I get worried. I know there are people who are like, 'Cool, I get to use my sick day and have a little staycation'. But I know I can’t shut it down, so I think about how this is going to affect my efficiency to do what I do. It’s not just about the kids, I think about my staff, too. I’ve got this pressure I put on myself as a leader and you’ve got to do that even if you’ve got the flu.”
For someone so driven, one might wonder how Craig approaches getting back to full strength. “Theraflu® Hot Liquid is my nighttime go-to. I like having something effective and readily available in my medicine cabinet. It gets me to where I can stop coughing and opens me up enough so I can breathe. Those two things are essential to sleeping, which is important to me when I first get sick.”
“That one kid in front of me is the world and that’s what powers me.”
While getting sick can be a challenge whenever it happens, Craig is faced with many challenges on a daily basis. One aspect in particular stands out. “The overarching challenge is controlling what is often near impossible to control, which is another human being and the environment around that person. You can feel pretty defeated every day when kids end up back in court or have to deal with things at home that they shouldn’t have to. But this is what we do and those are challenges we face with them every day.”
When asked to define what powers him, Craig said, “Helping one kid at a time. That one kid who is in front of me at the moment and I’m trying to fix them and help them have the life they deserve. That one kid in front of me is the world and that’s what powers me.”
Theraflu® proudly celebrates Craig, and people like him, who power through adversity to make a difference in other people’s lives. And when they need some relief from cold and flu symptoms, Theraflu® is there to help them power through.
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