HERO Coalition Awards

The HERO Coalition has an award program for students and groups of students who contribute their best in one of the six “Get Involved with ” categories; Civic Engagement, Education & Literacy, Environment, Health & Fitness, Inclusiveness and Peace. We also give awards to community and business leaders who serve our youth in one of these six categories.

HERO Award Winners

Winner of the 2017 HERO Coalition Super-Samaritan Award is… Rick Carlson

Maureen Farrell, HERO’s DFC Grant Coordinator, presented Rick Carlson with the HERO Coalition’s 2017 Super Samaritan Award, Saturday evening, August 12, before the 4-H llama costume event at the 2017 Carver County Fair. Rick’s 4-H llama kids were an integral part of recognizing Rick with an impromptu group-hug and with their messages of thanks on a giant Chalkboard Llama. 

Winner of the 2015 HERO Coalition Super-Samaritan Award—Justin Ratzlaff  

Justin Ratzlaff is the founder of the SPOKES brand—Bike, Paddle, Ice Cream and Micro Adventures. Justin’s creative and positive contributions to the youth of our community have changed the face of recreation and fitness in our area. SPOKES is located in Waconia and St Bonifacius. Check out their website at spokesmn.com.

We asked Justin to share a little about his thoughts around youth leadership and making a difference…

Living in a small community, I believe, greatly affects the identities of the people who live there, and more importantly, grew up there. As a third generation graduate of Waconia High School I’ve come to identify with this great community greatly. Growing up I saw my parents and grandparents as active members of the community, and I have become more and more apart of it as I’ve grown up. In high school I was apart of the many different activites that was offered; I was on the student council, a member of the national honor society, served on the Curicculum advisory council, ran track and cross country, and was on the Alpine ski team as well. All these things helped expose me to a great amount of different people and opportunities as well. In college I returned fairly often and found that even though I was away my identity was still a huge part of who I was, especially when explaining to people what “Nickle Dickle Days” could possibly be?!  Through a entreprenurship class, a lot of luck, and a lot of help from family, friends, and mentors I found myself back here as a business owner even before I graduated. Almost three years have gone by since SPOKES first opened it’s doors in St. Boni and while at times its been a challenge I’m incredibly satisfied with what I do and what I can do to give back.

In those last three years I’ve been able to return to several of the organizations that I was in as a student. I currently serve on the District 110 Teaching and Learning Advisory Council, as well as giving my time as a volunteer cross country coach. I also am the assistant coach of the Robotics program at Waconia as well. But besides positions like those working at the bike shop has offered me many fun rewarding opportunities in the community. Whether it’s leading the nickle dickle 10k or Lola’s half, teaching kids bike safety and maintenance at bike rodeos, or salvaged old bikes so I can give free parts to kids I’m always pretty busy around town. 

Last year I was able to partner with Christian and Abby Gilbert to bring paddling to Waconia which has been fun to see grow into a second shop and an opportunity for more and more people to be able to get out on the great bodies of water that we have around us and really explore. We’re working more and more to bring Micro adventures to the area as well, because not everyone climbs Everest, or paddles the Amazon, so why not paddle the Crow River, or bike all the way from Waconia to a Twin’s game on the great trails that we have? We’re all striving to show the kids and adults in our community that there’s so much fun to had, and so many places to explore, and it really doesn’t take that much expertise or equipment to get out and do it! 

When I stop and think I really believe that there are plenty of “heros” in our community. There are those who vow to protect and serve, volunteer their time and gifts, and those who simply try and make life better for those around them. Whenever kids and even adults come into the shop for simple fixes and ask how much it was to adjust a derailleur was or tighten a loose pedal I always like to pass on a lesson that my mentor taught me; their payment is to do something nice for someone that week. It usually baffles some since we now-a-days are so accostumed to paying for everything, but then it sinks in and my hope is that those people can use the skills that they have to help out someone in the way that I helped them.   ~Justin Ratzlaff