Craig Dodson was a semi-professional cyclist when he was asked to speak to a group of students at a recreation center in Richmond, Virginia.
He didn’t know that many of them lived in one of the city’s roughest housing projects and attended its lowest-performing schools.
“I walk in with my khakis and polo shirt,” Dodson said. “I start telling these kids, ‘Don’t do drugs and you can be just like me.’ They just looked at me like, ‘You idiot. There’s no bridge big enough to get me to where you are.’ ”
Dodson couldn’t shake the experience. That was in 2005.
Today, the 37-year-old has become a father figure to about 20 young people living in Richmond’s public housing.