Summers in college are one of those things that stick with you for the rest of your life. The reasons for that are as varied as you might expect, unique to each group and individuals’ personalities.
While a majority of students spend most of their summer days slaving away at a job or internship, there’s almost always something to look forward to, too. Some kids like to getaway with friends to party their nights away. For others, it’s a few weeks backpacking in Europe. Still yet for some students, it’s a chance to completely veg out and decompress after months of studying and exams. And it’s the experiences had during those special times in the months off from school that we all cherish down the road. I certainly do, at least.
That said, for most of us, those experiences are and were pretty much only self-beneficial. Which is fine both because most people in the 18-25 age range are naturally a little self-centered, and because it’s good to make time for yourself regardless your station in life. That’s why it’s always so impressive when you see a group of collegiate scholars finding a way to get their memorable summer experience to impact not just themselves, but others as well.
So when I first heard about some guys from my hometown just outside of Cincinnati planning a beneficial summer experience and combining it with soccer, I had to find out more.
Meet Dribble 4 Toledo, a group of four young gentleman plotting a journey to dribble all the way across the state of Ohio.
Starting May 20th, Nick Streibick, Isaac Beal, Jake Essig, and Derek Garde will set off from Monroe, Ohio, and dribble their way 250 miles to Toledo, Ohio, all with aim of raising at least $10,000 for the charity LifeLine Toledo. For a bunch of dudes no older than 21, that’s a pretty refreshingly mature, yet cool, idea.
“I’ve been friends with Derek Garde and Nick Streibick though soccer since the age of 6,” said Jake. “Isaac Beal and I met at Huntington University were we play together on the varsity team. The four of us decided that we wanted to go on a trip that would stretch us as people and strengthen our friendship.”
Sure, the foursome contemplated the normal trips taken by most of their peers. But after talking it over, they decided that none of those options really offered exactly what they were looking for. “We [also] wanted to make an impact in the community, ” Jake explained. After spending time in downtown Toledo during a preseason mission-minded team building outing with Huntington, seeing the poverty experienced there first-hand made an impression on Isaac and Jake. So after discussing things further with Nick and Derek, the four decided that they “wanted to raise money and increase awareness of the poverty and need of a nearby city that is often overlooked.” And if you know anything about Toledo, it is an easy place to overlook.
So since September of last year, Derek, Jake, Isaac and Nick have been planning and organizing an experience of a lifetime that will reach far beyond themselves. In addition to coordinating with LifeLine Toledo, they’ve also had to plot their path, write business proposals for sponsors, and contact government officials. “The biggest difficulty in getting this into place was not having any experience with an initiative of this magnitude. There have been many ‘firsts’.” And though they don’t quite have all of the wrinkles in their plan for the trip ironed out yet, they don’t have much left to finalize either.
For all the moms out there worried about how wise it might be for their sons to be dribbling on state highways and around blind-cornered country roads — I imagine my own mother nodding while reading this — you’ll be pleased to know the boys are doing their due diligence when it comes to safety. While the official response from the Ohio Department of Transportation is that it is a rather hazardous endeavor, Dribble 4 Toledo are reaching out to all the local police departments along their route to give a heads up on their anticipated arrival dates. They’re also planning on wearing brightly colored shirts and large backpacks to help make themselves a bit more visible.
Though they don’t have any special plans along the path to Toledo as of yet, one of the guys’ favorite aspects of the trip is its flexibility. Aiming to dribble around 10-15 miles per day, that leaves them with ample time to speak at events about their mission, join in community events, not to mention partake in a pickup game of soccer or two. They’ll spend their nights on the road a number of ways, including some in tents, others couch surfing and a few in Comfort Inns thanks to a generous sponsorship from the Monroe franchise of the hotel chain.
So how exactly are the guys from Dribble 4 Toledo hoping to impact the underprivileged in Toledo with this expedition? While individual monetary contributions and corporate sponsorships continue to pour in and is the primary objective of their journey, they boys also wanted to stress that it’s not just gifts of money that can help to make a change. “Obviously, money does help,” Jake continued, “but we want people to get involved in this movement in whatever way they feel called to do so. Sharing our message and trek on various social media outlets, dribble with us for a part of the trip, donating clothing/food/time, and more.”
In addition to that, the D4T team are hoping to cap off the trip with a volunteer “Final Whistle” service day effort to further benefit the people of Toledo. And ideally, they’d like to have a lot of people there to help them do it. As Jake put it, “The people are the change and the key part of this radical transforming mission. We are just the hands and feet.” Wise words from such a young dude.
Look, I’ll be honest: I would have been pretty freaking impressed if these guys were simply planning to dribble across the state. That on its own would undoubtedly be an awesome experience. But also doing it to raise money for a great cause and to inspire others to chase their dreams? That’s really impressive.
I also have no doubt that if I were to actually follow through on such a plan — highly questionable — there’s definitely no way I would have thought to use it as a means to help others. Not that I would have been opposed to it, I just never would have thought that outside of myself. It would have just been a trip for me. It probably still would, and I’m 30.
And that’s what makes these young men’s dream to kick a ball all the way across the state so compelling: it’s hard to find something that would not only be a fabulous life experience, but it’s even harder to find one that will also mean something bigger.
If you’re interested in donating towards Dribble 4 Toledo, or you just want to keep up to date on their progress, you can find out more information by visiting their Facebook or Twitter pages where they’ll soon have t-shirts and other gear up for sale to help raise proceeds for LifeLine Toledo.