BY LEANN DILBECK –
Finding a hobby that you enjoy is such a rewarding experience. Understanding that the hobby is a God-given gift that can be used to serve others can bring an undeniable and deep satisfaction.
Such is the case for April (Lee) Dickerson of South Polk County, who recently was part of an event that raised over $121,412,000 to help fund MS (multiple sclerosis) research and critical programs for people living with MS. April was one of 265 participants who rode for the Bike MS: Rock’n Hot Ride this year – a grueling 2-day fundraising cycling event. The ride is a 126-mile journey from North Little Rock to Ponce De Leon Center in Hot Springs Village and back… certainly not a ride for the novice cyclist.
April will tell you that she doesn’t personally have a connection to MS but her heart is clearly motivated to give back to those who are not blessed with the same abilities, “I like to bike and I feel like since God gave me the ability to ride and I was able to ride… I just kinda wanted to pay that to people who can’t ride. If you have multiple sclerosis, you’re not able to do all of this stuff… this helps them and I wanted to do that.”
April grew up in neighboring Watson, Okla. and attended most of her school at Smithville before relocating to Arkansas and graduating from Hatfield High School in 2002. She married Roger Dickerson of Vandervoort in May 2004, after attending RMCC for two years. The couple has two children, Brodie, age 11 and Flint, age 9, who are both students in the Cossatot River School District. April is also part of the CRSD family, serving as a paraprofessional at the high school in Vandervoort. And somehow, between working a full-time job and raising two busy boys, she finds time to ride about 50-60 miles per week, on either her mountain bike or road bike. She confirmed that her husband and her boys are her strongest cheerleaders.
As if the causes that April rides for are not enough, she said she is continually pushing herself. It was the challenge and competitiveness of the Rock’n Hot Ride that attracted her. And competitive she was, April averaged 16 mph over the very hilly terrain and finished within the Top 30 of 265 participants, all while raising $800 herself. “None of this would have been possible without the support from my family and local businesses.” Kenny Jewell Logging, Union Bank, Ouachita Equine, Shelter Insurance – Kenny Miller, Insulation Works, Amber Denton, Maxine and Cullis Lee, Nicole Evans, Tammy Callicott, and Scotty’s all rallied around April and her ambitious goal.
Her heartfelt passion for riding for a cause is fairly new, three years ago to be exact, and it was through friends in Texas that she found her niche. Also an avid runner, April now runs in two races and rides in two events each year. She said it is very much a family event as her husband and boys cheer her all along the route and are ready to greet her at the finish line! “The boys will ride with me during the week sometimes, maybe four to six miles but they haven’t done a race yet. I’m hoping they continue.” The other races April competes in each year are the Conquer the Gauntlet, the Warrior Dash, which is a fundraiser for St. Jude Cancer Research, and the True Grit, which funds a ‘backpack’ program.
April said cycling is very much an addiction for her and that even when she isn’t in a race, she’s in a race… against herself, “Even when I’m riding the same trail, I’m always looking at my time… ‘am I better than last time?’” While she said it is an addiction, she also explained there is a large amount of determination each time, going from one point to another. “I’m always giving myself little pep talks along the way… but I just love being out there looking at the scenery.” April had a deep appreciation for the scenic route of the 2 Rivers Trail, came around Pinnacle Mountain, and then down to Hwy 7 during the Rock’n Hot Ride in particular, “It was a real pretty ride and I think Arkansas has such beautiful countryside… and I like to look. That’s one thing about the bike, you’re out there by yourself and you have nature and you have God… and you’re just out there riding in the big middle of it all.”
There appears to be no limit to April’s intrinsic determination to use her passion for the good of others, “At the finish line, you’ll see people there who have or know someone with MS… I had this one guy I didn’t even know come up to me and thank me for riding because his wife has MS.” She explained that race officials announced that this event helps around 6,000 people around Arkansas with MS, and that’s all the inspiration April needs.