Akron students to take first ride on record-breaking coaster at Cedar Point


Samantha Hickey

Mentor Reese March with his Family Foundation mentees.

By Samantha Hickey, Assistant Online Editor

A lucky group of students from The University of Akron will get to experience the very first ride on Cedar Point’s new record-breaking roller coaster thanks to the LeBron James Family Foundation.

On Thursday, May 5, the I PROMISE mentors and mentees will buckle up at a private event and speed off at 75 mph as the Valravn’s first set of riders. Half of the seats of the first ride are reserved for the LeBron James Family Foundation’s youth and their accompanying mentors, leaving the other half to be auctioned off with proceeds going toward the LeBron James Family Foundation programming.

The new roller coaster has broken 10 records and earned titles as the tallest dive coaster (223 feet), the fastest dive coaster (75 mph) and the coaster with the longest dive (3,415 feet).

Pairing with James’ foundation, the students in the new I PROMISE Youth Mentorship course are trained in areas of youth mentorship and problems facing urban youth and their schools, then paired with academically vulnerable middle schoolers at Litchfield Middle School in Akron.

The mentors and mentees meet every Tuesday and Thursday at Litchfield Middle School where they work on creating and achieving goals and finding pathways for academic success.

Junior William “Reese” Marsh is one of the 17 students enrolled in the I PROMISE course at UA.

“The one thing I will take away from this course is that everyone needs to be given a chance. I think that this mentorship program and partnership with The LeBron James Family Foundation is exactly what these kids need,” said Marsh. “Although we only get to spend a couple days with them a week, I think that having the mentors around gives them a reason to come to school and someone who is there for them to help them along the way.”

It is through these mentoring hours that UA students have been invited to attend exclusive LeBron James Family Foundation events such as meeting with the Canton Charge, the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA D-League team, and attending James’ Hometown Hall. They will now be known as the first riders on Cedar Point’s Valravn.

“I’ve never been a huge fan of roller coasters, but my mentees said they wanted to hear me scream ‘like a little girl,’” said Marsh. “I am both nervous and excited, but I know when I get in line my nervousness will overtake any excitement. I just have to make sure I don’t scream.”

The I PROMISE course for the fall semester will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Undergraduate students interested in enrolling can contact Brad Maguth at [email protected].