Girls take over Michiana's BMX community, making a family of their own
It's a takeover many didn't expect to see. A group of Michiana teens are changing the beat of BMX riding.
One of the best in the world, right here in Michiana.
One BMX rider defied gravity and landed one of the most difficult tricks at the Sixth Annual Pro Am Competition at South Bend's "The Kitchen" Skate Park.
"A lot of girls don't know that this is a girl and boy sport," says 15-year-old Hannah Roberts, the number one female BMX rider in the world.
It's not a boy's club at the skate park anymore.
"Most action sports, they think are boy sports," explains Roberts. "But we're trying to change that and help get more girls to participate."
And they are.
Pink wheels and pink helps are making more appearances in the sport.
"A lot more girls, they can do it. You might be scared to get on a bike, but once you try it, you're gonna succeed," says 17-year-old Caitlyn Rasiuk.
This is Rasiuk's second year riding, and she's hooked.
"I feel like I can be myself and I'm free from all my other problems," she adds.
Rasiuk and Roberts are two of the approximate 15 girls putting the pedal to the medal, to win.
The girls have something to prove, but only to themselves.
"Just be yourself, like you can do anything you put your mind to," says Rasiuk.
Both teens say the boys are the best cheerleaders they could ever have.
"If you land something for the first time, they are there clapping and screaming and it's the best feeling ever," explains Rasiuk.
"The support they have behind everybody is really powerful," adds Roberts. "It's just ridiculous."
It's a support group that is riding together, gender-blind. One that is always willing to help each other up and over each hill, and picking each other up after each fall.
"There's a lot of obstacles in BMX and if you join, you learn how to overcome obstacles without much hesitation," says Roberts. "It's really helped me through my life so far."
They consider the other riders as a family. A family that does what family does best: help and support one another.
This year's Pro-Am was also a fundraiser to help pay medical bills and expenses for another BMX rider, who is recovering from a serious accident.
The organizers, the Banasiewicz family, says it's a circle of trust that is indicative to the community.
Brett Banasiewicz is a South Bend native who was severely injured in a 2012 BMX accident, and the community stood together to assist him.
His mom, Lisa, says that's just what the BMX family does.
"That's just what BMX people do. We ride together, we embrace the winnings together, and unfortunately when times are tough, we stick together and help each other recuperate until we're on our feet again," explains Banasiewicz.