- Associated Press - Friday, April 25, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - The sun was shining. Techno beats and upbeat country played over the loudspeakers. Cyclists on red-and-white Schwinn bikes circled the track, pulling dust into the air.

It was Tuesday - just days before the Women’s Little 500 race and one of the last practices. From a pit on the north side of Indiana University’s Bill Armstrong Stadium, a first-year team had just two of its four riders.

The other half of the team - sisters - was miles away in an Indianapolis hospital, one in critical condition and the other with their parents at her bedside.

“Doing good, girl,” Rachael Dickerson called as Chelsie Hafler - the team’s only veteran rider - passed the pit.

On a track of cyclists wearing dark-colored helmets, they were the ones with an embellished emblem of nurses: glittery red crosses.

They were the IU Nursing team.

They joined to be noticed.

“Who doesn’t know Little 5?” Dickerson thought.

With a team from the IU School of Nursing, they could meet students from the rest of campus.

Students know there is a nursing school, Dickerson told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/1rt2CTL ), but they don’t know nursing students. If the nursing students had a Little 500 team, other students and cyclists would meet their nursing classmates in the stands and the cyclists with the glittery red crosses on the track.

Then, the accident happened.

It was one of the worst in recent memory, sending IU Nursing cyclist Lauren Gill, 23, to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis in critical condition last Thursday. This Thursday, she was upgraded to fair condition.

Suddenly, media from across the state were reporting about the rookie team, and the members were warned there were more reporters to follow.

But pulling out of Friday’s race was not an option.

“You just have to do it for yourself and Lauren,” Dickerson said.

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