Senate District 6 Unsung Hero
Dean "Dino" Alleger
President of Orange Cat Racing & Director of Mack Road
Partnership's Bicycle Repair Program
Cycling has always been a part Dean Alleger's life and he is determined to share his sport with young people in our community, especially those that are underserved. Dean uses bicycles and cycling as a way to build kids’ self-confidence, promote physical activity and engage kids in their own neighborhoods. For the last year, Dean has been working with the Mack Road Partnership to offer bicycle repair clinics and helmet safety actives. Dean not only salvages, repairs and donates cool, usable bikes to people in need, he is teaching kids how to fix the bikes themselves. Dean works with a core group of kids, teaching them hands-on mechanical skills by building bikes from scrap bikes donated to the Partnership. In its first year, Dean's program repaired 626 bikes and gave out 228 helmets. Learn more about Dean's work here: http://orangecatracing.com/blog.html
Tell us a little about yourself:
I was adopted from the Sacramento Children's Home in 1965 and grew up in the College Greens Glenbrook neighborhood just east of Sac State. I went to Sacramento High School class of 1983 back when it was an art magnet, Sacramento City College and San Francisco State University class of 1995 where I studied trumpet and music composition. I have an awesome wife, a thirty year old daughter, and two affectionate tabby cats.
What issues are you most passionate about?
In partnership with the ReIMAGINE Mack Road Foundation, I am dedicated to the youth and community members that live on or near the Mark Road corridor. Specifically, I work with them to build up salvaged bicycles provided through a partnership with the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Regional Transit. Community members may earn a bike by performing community service. We also repair bicycles owned by community members that have fallen into disrepair. We have a high percentage of bike commuters, both to work and to school, so keeping those bikes working is critically important. I show up early, stay late, and never flake out. I'm at the same place, at the same time, every week. I set up my mobile workshop at the Valley Hi Community Center located at 7833 Center Parkway, so the neighborhood kids know when and where to find me. Some kids just need that one person who is happy to see them. I'm most passionate about teaching them to be independent and mobile. Urban mobility, that's what I'm most passionate about.
What inspires your community efforts and why is the work important to you?
I have a soft spot for misfits, rebels, and troublemakers. These are the kids with the most potential to do great things with their lives if they are given the opportunity. I'm doing my best to disrupt the school to prison pipeline by engaging my students on their terms in their environment. They are building their own bicycling culture in a community where there is none.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I was the drum major of the Sacramento High School Dragon Marching Band and marched five seasons with the Sacramento Freelancers Drum and Bugle Corps. My induction into the SAMMIES Hall of Fame for my work with Dutch Falconi & His Twisted Orchestra was cool. Winning Eppie's Great Race was a pretty special moment too.
What have you struggled most with in your life?
I've suffered at least nine concussions and have battled depression and anxiety for most of my life. That and sometimes I'm a bit too outspoken, LOL. I've had to learn the hard way that some people have no interest in truth and justice so it's best to pick my battles wisely.
What kind of lessons do you work to instill in your daughter?
I encouraged my daughter from an early age to be fiercely independent. "To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any human." William Shakespeare
If there is one problem in our community that you wish you could fix, what would it be?
We need clean, safe, and visible bicycle racks in all the places where we want our kids to go.
How do you decompress?
I enjoy graphic novels, post-apocalyptic science fiction, listening to baseball games and WWOZ on the radio, bicycling and hiking on the American River Parkway, quiet time with my wife and cats, and I own the largest opera collection of anyone I ever met.