April 6th 2011
It's Friday night and I receive a text message from one of the kids who signed up to become a team member in the newly formed UrbanPromise Academy Elite Cycling Team.
A group of ten students have committed to this twelve week long training regimen and conditioning program that will prepare them to ride in the 50 mile Pedal for Promise on May 7th. The students have made a huge commitment, as for many the disciplines of training, sacrifice, and teamwork will stretch them well beyond their comfort zone.
This student is obviously distraught; a close friend he’s grown up with was killed after being shot multiple times last night on Mt. Ephraim Avenue. He tells me he’s not available to make Sunday’s practice and he won’t be able to be part of the team anymore. I text him back that I am very sorry for his loss, but the practice is not scheduled to start until the following Sunday.
Afterwards, I begin thinking about some of the events that happen in the lives of my kids. Later that weekend, I pick up one of my students from his home in South Camden and, as he gets into the car shaking his head like only a seventeen year old can do, he grumbles, “My mom, she always says the same three things to me when I leave the house - ‘I love you, be safe and don’t get shot’.
‘Don’t get shot!?’ I know that, as parents, we have a long list of worries as our teenagers walk out the door on a Saturday night, but for most of us, having them get shot down in the street is not one of our concerns.
Back at school the next week, I spoke to the young man who texted me about not being able to be part of the team any longer…I told him I thought the team was part of the solution for him. I told him he couldn’t let the bullets that left his friend to “bleed out” on the street also take him down. He needed to ride for his friend and, even more, for himself; otherwise those bullets would just go on killing more and more young people.
So, if you ask me why we ride, I’ll tell you stories about some of the most amazing and resilient young people I’ve ever met. I look forward to sharing the road with you on May 7th and thank you to everyone, riders and supporters alike…you keep us believing!
Director of Experiential Learning
P.S. Click here to support one of our Elite Team Student Cyclists.