(Ed. Note: This story was featured in the 2013 edition of the Glacier Gazette)
Each year, youth cyclists have an opportunity that wasn’t available when I began riding. In fact, they have an opportunity that isn’t available to a number of young cyclists throughout the country. Michigan Youth Cycling supports a number of events throughout the state with its scholarship program and donations of time and money to other programs. It helps provide young cyclists with an opportunity to support their own future beyond cycling.
As too many of todays youth sit in front of the television, play video games or spend their time texting friends that they just left the company of, there are a number of dedicated young cyclists out there. They are out training, honing their skills and learning how to dedicate themselves to achieving goals. Learning skills that will help them as they progress through life. These young cyclists are the future of our sport and by supporting these cyclists; MYC supports the future of cycling. That’s one of the founding principles of Michigan Youth Cycling.
As a young man, MYC founder Jeff Buerman had an opportunity to meet President Reagan at the National Homeowners Association. During this encounter, he was given a piece of life advice that has stuck with him since. “No matter what industry you go into, you have to give back and support it.” And that’s exactly what the Buerman’s did by creating Michigan Youth Cycling.
Originally created in 2000 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit team for youth cyclists, 3-time Iceman champion Brian Matter was one of the early inspirations when they took him to his first MTB race at the age of eleven. It has since evolved and become a scholarship program with the purpose of supporting the future education of young cyclists.
With more and more pressure and importance put on higher education today and the rising costs of tuition, these scholarships provide support that one day will become the building blocks that give back to cycling. This is no more evident than in Brian Matters’ Junior Mountain Bike camp that’s hosted each year at Michigan Tech in which MYC donates $1500.
Over the first five years, the team grew to nearly twenty five riders and was traveling to races in the upper New England region and as far west as Colorado. Today, MYC supports events such as Iceman, Berry Roubaix and has created a Junior Cyclist of the Year award in the name of Iceman founder, Steve Brown. In 2013, MYC is set to provide over $10,000 in scholarships while reaching a milestone of presenting one rider, Rudy Peterson, with a check totalling $3500 in scholarships. This is the single largest check the organization has written.
In addition to providing scholarships at events, MYC has become an important partner for the Iceman event through its transfer program. Each year leading up to Iceman, MYC processes the hundreds of registration transfers that come in. This provided a new level of support to riders that Iceman wasn’t able to offer originally. In return for the transfer program, each year Iceman donates a number of registrations that MYC then auctions off in the months leading into the event. These registrations generate a substantial amount of funds that help grow the scholarships available to the Iceman racers.
When asked what impact MYC has had on the Iceman event, Steve Brown was quick to point out that it has increased the level of and quality youth riders who attended the event. “Word has definitely gotten out that the MYC scholarship program at Iceman is for real, as we now attract junior riders from all over the Midwest and even Colorado. The junior fields have grown significantly in the last five years as a result of everything Jeff & Ann have done.”
Steve also mentioned the importance of programs like Michigan Youth Cycling in bring younger riders to the sport. “The median age of Iceman riders is creeping-up each year and if we don’t have strong youth programs it could soon just be a bunch old guys and gals having a go at it.”
Now in it’s thirteenth year, MYC continues to grow each year and expand on the number of events and scholarships they provide. While discussing the organization, Buerman was proud to say that the scholarship to Rudy Peterson currently stands out as one of the most memorable moments in the organizations history. “This scholarship is a great milestone for MYC, it is the single largest scholarship that we’ve presented. It represents everything that our program stands for; dedication, hard work and passion to the sport of cycling.”
As the program grows, it continues to prides itself on supporting young cyclist who work hard, dedicate themselves to the sport and commit to pushing themselves to new levels. The scholarships that are awarded are not simply a hand out. They are something that is earned through excellence and effort and by supporting those riders; Michigan Youth Cycling believes that it can help create a strong sport of cycling for the future.