News & Stories

Loppet Intern Bianca Dawkins tells her story.
August 4, 2011

Dr. Seuss once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

From fashion runways to inner city girl, from homeless teen to thanking GOD for another day, my name is Bianca Monique Dawkins and I am a City of Lakes Nordic Ski Foundation Intern. I have lived in Minneapolis most of my life and my time here has been challenging. Growing up in a family of domestic abuse, I have managed to keep my head held high and learn from all the obstacles that come my way. Last year of June 2010, we became homeless. My family and I got tired of being abused and living in fear so we had to make the hardest choice. We packed up what we could take and headed on the road to the battered women’s shelter, where we lived for six months.

During my stay at the Women of Nations shelter I got in contact with City of Minneapolis Leaders about the issue of Youth Violence. I implemented a document stating possible ways the City of Minneapolis could engage with youth and make them safer. As a result of my efforts I was appointed to the Youth Violence Prevention Committee with Mayor R.T Rybak and other city leaders.

A good friend of mine on the YVP board appointed me to John Munger. She talked about how the Nordic Ski Foundation was really good with physical activities being that I was showing an interest in these areas. I got in contact with John Munger and set up a meeting time. Not knowing how far the travel would be from my house I prepared to be in the car at least about 20 minutes. We came over the Plymouth Bridge which is about 6 blocks from my house and there was Theodore Wirth Park. I never in my life knew how close With Park was to North Minneapolis. Something so close, seemed so far. That kind of made me frusterated that our community is not taking advantage of this beautiful location.

After a few meetings with John, we made my internship official and right away I got to work. I came right in on the finishing up process of the Tri-Loppet, so I was pretty busy all week. From creating 100’s of arrows for paths to bag stuffing for participants, I never realized how much work and time had to be into these types of events until I was apart of it.

I had the opportunity to participate in the event, which some people thought was a ridiculous idea. There was a 8k canoe, a 5k run, and a 7 mile mountain bike. I have never been in any sort of marathon, nor have I never trained for long runs or mountain biking. I knew that it was going to be a big challenge and that I just had to do the best that I could. The canoeing wasn’t so bad but when I got up to the bike transition my legs just quit on me for a second and I fell. I knew I couldn’t punk out so I got up, took my sweater off and headed for the food station. I grabbed a couple of snacks to motivate me and went on my way. I was doing pretty well at first until I lost sight of others runners in the woods. The trees began to scare me but I knew if I wanted to get out of there I had to keep running. So I jogged down the hills and on the flat surfaces and walked uphill. I finally saw a person and begin to run faster because I knew I wasn’t lost.

Bianca paddled with Anwatin skier Mike Xiong in the Tri-Loppet

I made it to the bike corral to pick up my bike and I had already seen people coming through the finish line. I felt a little disappointed for a moment but I knew I had to keep going. I got on my bike like a professional cyclist and took off. A participant and I decided to stick together on the bike trail. He would wait for me at moments when I thought I was going to die and I would wait for him at moments when he thought his bike would die. Towards the end I knew it was either him or me finishing first so I began to get competitive. We began passing each other up back and forth. I knew that I had to get in front of him, so with all my might I darted pass him, up the hill, around the corner, over the bump, up another hill and down I went. Sweat running down my face, all I could hear was,” Number 266 Bianca Dawkins”. For a minute I forgot my name and looked down at my number and it was me.

Completing the race was a big accomplishment for me and it made me feel really good. It definitely opened up my eyes about how in life we just need to push a little harder even if things may seem impossible. It also taught me that it always good to have someone by your side through any race. Whether it’s running a marathon, taking care of kids, or just simply applying for a job.

My time here with The City of Lakes Nordic Ski foundation has been nothing but amazing. Everyone is so welcoming and always making sure that I have something to do which is a good thing. I have been with them only a short period of time but I swear it feels like forever. Everyday I’m learning something new and some of the tasks may get challegening but the team has been awesome. I really appreciate being able to get this opportunity to work with these ambitious co-workers.