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Meet the 2023 Be Good RPI Scholarship Recipients

The Be Good™ Foundation was originally founded by Rebecca Rusch after her life-altering journey to Laos in 2015. As the first person to ever ride the entirety of the Ho Chi Mihn Trail, this journey not only led Rebecca to her father's crash and subsequent burial site, but also ignited a spark in her to "be good," as her father always told her to do. The ultimate goal of the Be Good Foundation is to create opportunities for outdoor exploration, personal discovery, and humanitarian service at local, national, and global levels. As part of that mission, it offers a sponsorship opportunity for cyclists from the para cycling, BIPOC, and LQBTQ+ communities to attend Rebecca's namesake gravel race, Rebecca's Private Idaho, in September. With the intent to connect more riders from different backgrounds and communities, the scholarship includes a waived entry fee, travel to and from Ketchum, Idaho, a bike and gear if the participant needs it, a training program through RPI BaseCamp, and lodging.

Donations from our incredible community have secured six lucky riders with a spot at RPI 2023, and we'd like to introduce them to you.

Kenneth Butler

Hailing from Braintree, Massachusetts, Kenneth Butler first found biking when healing as an inpatient at Walter Reed. A wounded combat veteran, Kenneth lost his right arm above the elbow from an IED in 2007. Morale was low for Kenneth after his injury, but that first bike ride with fellow wounded veterans changed everything. ”It made me realize that I could still do what I wanted, physically, I just had to figure out how,” says Kenneth.

It was the freedom and independence that piqued Kenneth’s interest in biking but it’s the community that keeps him coming back to the saddle, day after day. In terms of RPI, Kenneth says, “Aside from physically wanting to finish, I'm equally looking forward to the camaraderie and good vibes that go hand in hand while riding with a bunch of people in beautiful scenery.”

Chanel Mitchell

“As a plus-size African American Woman working to increase the representation of BLACK AND BROWN women in cycling, I'd like to push the needle forward to expand the message that all bodies belong and are welcomed on bikes,” wrote Chanel Mitchell in her Be Good RPI Scholarship application. A community healer by trade, Chanel is a licensed clinical social worker, providing mental health counseling services to underrepresented and marginalized communities. She’s also working to build a cycling club in her community of St. Louis, Missouri, for BIPOC youth to find their passion for riding around on two wheels.

Save The Last Dance is Chanel’s favorite movie and Be Good means “being an active participant in changing the narrative to make our world a better place. It means accepting and including everyone's story and finding the common thread that allows us to connect and become one. It means finding the Good in all things, as there are opportunities to heal. Be Good is a call to see that your life has meaning and can be meant for the betterment of self, others, and society.”

Joe Pomeroy

It was 2013 when Joe Pomeroy became paralyzed while racing motorcycles, but it wasn’t until 2016 that Joe rode a handcycle for the first time. Ever since that first ride, Joe’s outlook on life has taken a complete 180-degree turn. “I can honestly say that the handcycle saved my life,” says Joe with complete sincerity. “I forgot about my paralysis and the exercise helped manage my nerve pain but it massively helped my mental health, too, and I found a new community where I belonged. I got my first handcycle in 2017 and since then I ride around 6,000 to 7,000 miles per year and compete in road and gravel events.”

What is it about RPI that inspired Joe to apply for the Be Good scholarship? “RPI is an epic event and I'm one of the very few gravel hand cyclists in the USA,” Joe says “My desire is to grow the sport of gravel handcycling within the para community and show others what is possible and how much fun you can have doing it. I want to have a lasting, positive impact on others with disabilities.”

Jessica Alexander

Bikes are nothing new for Jessica Alexander. Since the age of 8, Jessica has competed on her bike and continues to gravitate to the sport for the freedom, growth and continuous learning opportunities that cycling provides. Jessica originally received a Be Good RPI scholarship in 2022 but due to work obligations was unable to attend. Since then, Jessica has lost her mother and taken on the role of caretaker for her father, who was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer. “As I heal from loss in my life recently, I use my bicycle to breathe and remember that the world will always continue to evolve, and so should I,” says Jessica.

One thing most people don’t know about Jessica is that she was a touring drummer in her early twenties, and she currently owns her own business as a freelance photographer. “As a lifetime learner, I have come to realize that seeing the world in a different light/pace/vantage point has made me appreciate the beauty of the world around me.” Jessica is most excited to share the RPI experience with the rest of the scholarship riders and to push her body’s limits on the gravel.

Benjamin Raymond

Riding with us all the way from Vass, North Carolina, Benjamin Raymond is an active member of the Army Special Forces and now, one of our 2023 Be Good RPI Scholarship recipients. Benjamin rediscovered his love for biking after facing serious burn out from work but alas, movement proved to be the medicine he needed. “It was a rough start but I got my skills back and began building upon them. My energy levels came back, I started caring again, and most importantly, I found my drive, which made me a good Soldier and better father/husband,” says Benjamin. “That’s what Be Good means to me. Find your purpose, keep pushing and always make sure you have some fun.”

A member of the cycling organization Soldiers on Singletrack, Benjamin was hesitant to apply for the scholarship at first, since he’s never ridden gravel but boy are we glad this applesauce-lovin’ dad did! With a little nudge from his wife and a whole lot of hours and miles in the saddle, Benjamin is excited to “Show myself that I can still do hard **** (stuff) and I'm on track to making my comeback (and learning how to gravel!)”

Sam Hansen

If you’ve been lucky enough to meet Sam Hansen, well then, you’re lucky enough! The defending non-binary champion of the Queen’s Stage Race, Sam is hyped to be coming back to RPI for another year of racing and building community on bikes. “As a non-binary racer, I am one of a select few and I think it is important for cycling races to do what they can to increase our representation,” Sam says so eloquently.

Born to shine in the spotlight, Sam used to engage in performance poetry and even had their own show at one point. For Sam, participating and racing in RPI provides a platform to represent the non-binary community and an opportunity to live out the message, Be Good. “To me Being Good means fighting to create a world where everyone is able to feel welcome, a world where people are able to be their whole and true selves in all situations and locations, and a world full of joy instead of hate.”

We are so incredibly excited and honored to be sending these six incredible humans to Sun Valley for RPI 2023. Looking for a way to contribute to this year's fundraising efforts? Check out our RPI Be Good Foundation fundraising page, this year's online auction, or if you're in the area, attend our VIP Be Good Foundation Party.

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