USA BMX & BMX Canada are among the top fundraisers for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Each year, riders gather donations and raise funds for this worthwhile cause. The Race For Life Series was started in 1981 to help a fellow BMXer diagnosed with leukemia.
WHAT IS THE RACE FOR LIFE ALL ABOUT?
It all started in 1981 when an avid 12 year old BMX racer from Michigan discovered he had Leukemia. Todd Kingsbury was his name, and like many BMXers, he had dreams of someday becoming a top pro in the sport. Unfortunately, this dreaded disease would keep Todd from fulfilling his dream. When Todd’s friends and the American Bicycle Association learned of his diagnosis, it was decided that an organized effort should be made to help in Todd’s “Race for Life.”
THE TODD KINGSBURY STORY
Like most kids his age, 11-year-old Todd Kingsbury lived and breathed bicycle motocross (BMX) 24 hours a day. In the early part of 1980, he was the leader in the American Bicycle Association’s BMX district points competition. However, as the year went on, Todd went from winning the district-wide events to just barely qualifying for local BMX championship events. Something was wrong.
At a Michigan state championship race in July 1980, Todd crashed and had to get his arm checked out. Like most BMX accidents, everything checked out fine but Todd’s arm continued to hurt the following week. After getting bumped at school, his arm swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. The Kingsbury family became very concerned and decided it was time for a thorough examination.
Todd would spend the next nine days in and out of the hospital, enduring many tests and exams, while at the same time dreaming of someday becoming a BMX Pro. Finally, the doctors completed their diagnosis and explained to Todd and his parents that Todd had leukemia. Todd was now faced with the biggest race: his race for life.
In July 1981, when the American Bicycle Association (ABA) staff learned of Todd’s diagnosis, the organization and the “family-like” sport of BMX decided to pitch in and help by launching the “Race For Life” series, with all the proceeds going to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s efforts to help find a cure for kids such as Todd. An amazing $223,000 was raised that first year, with 130 ABA tracks putting on Race For Life events. Although weakened by leukemia, Todd continued to ride and worked harder than anyone to support the Race For Life event at Waterford Oaks, MI BMX track.
Todd was to be the honorary race director for that race and told a reporter, “This (event) might help other people from getting (leukemia).” Todd passed away on Sept. 13, 1981 and was laid to rest in his Powerlite BMX uniform, taking with him a part of the sport he loved. In his 12 years of life, Todd touched many parents and racers. He is remembered in the hearts of all BMXers each year, as every USA BMX track holds a Race For Life in the hope that someday, there will be a cure for leukemia and a deserving boy such as Todd can live a full life.
Each year, every USA BMX track holds a “Race For Life”, with all proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. At these special events, racers can win a ton of cool prizes depending on how many donations they bring in from a wristband or a T-shirt, to a $500 travel stipend, one FREE hotel room, entry fees for the Race of Champions and Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma over Thanksgiving weekend.
Helping other people is one of the finest things that anyone can do in life. This is your opportunity through the sport we know and love to help people in two ways. First, through your gathering of donations for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, you will be helping fight and bring an end to dreadful diseases that affect thousands of people each year.
Secondly, you can introduce BMX to friends and neighbors that may not have thought they would ever be able to participate in competitive BMX, as this is one of the few races where you don`t have to be a USA BMX or BMX Canada member to try BMX. Their contributions will be their entry into the finest sport in the world, BMX.
Chief Executive Officer
USA BMX / BMX Canada