Jumping for a cause: Race for Life has special meaning for BMX riders
Oliver Godfrey will be celebrating his 11th birthday Sunday racing his bike, but he’ll have someone else on his mind.
The Grand Junction boy will be competing in the Race for Life at 2 p.m. at the Grand Valley BMX track.
Godfrey will race in memory of 3-year-old Isaac Krebs, who died five months ago from leukemia.
“It means a lot,” Godfrey said. “We didn’t really know Isaac, but his story touched our hearts. It was really painful when we found out he died, plus it’s my birthday.”
The Race for Life is open to anyone wanting to participate in an American Bicycle Association BMX race. The only requirement, other than the proper clothing and equipment, is a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Registration opens at noon. The track is located in the northwest corner of the Mesa County Fairgrounds, 2785 U.S. Highway 50.
Godfrey met Krebs through Godfrey’s mother, Tanya Middleton. She met Krebs at Kare-A-Lot Preschool.
“It really put more heart into it and emphasis on really the reason for racing, seeing that family go through everything they had to go through,” Middleton said.
“Having a daughter (Matea Middleton) the same age, I couldn’t imagine telling my daughter she’s not going to make it. We’re trying to get out there and bring awareness to it.
“(Oliver is) really trying to make the best of it because he wants to represent Isaac. The little boy’s mom may show up for the race, so we want to raise a lot of money and Oliver to do really good.”
Although Oliver would love to win the race, he realizes what’s more important.
“Win or lose, I know Isaac is looking down and saying, ‘Thank you,’ ” Godfrey said.
The Race for Life also has a special place in the Austin family.
Lori Austin, 44, had Hodgkins lymphoma 21 years ago. She survived, but the Race for Life is a reminder and an opportunity to educate her son and daughter about the disease.
“We got past that, but it was tough,” Austin said. “I did use the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to get materials to learn more about it. It’s near and dear to me.
“All these years later, I’ve been blessed with good health and two kids. I think this race is such a good opportunity to show my kids that life is precious. This is a good way to recognize it’s not always about them.”
Reid, 9, and Mary, 7, are competing in the BMX Race for Life.
“He loves it,” Austin said. “He had a friend that wanted to get him out here. It took my son saying, ‘Hey Dad, is there anywhere I can go race bikes?’
“We did it and ever since then this track has grown. It’s a great thing.”
There were an estimated 100 participants in the race last year, track manager Nick Adams said, raising more than $4,300 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The Race for Life was created by the American Bicycle Association in 1981 when a 12-year-old BMX racer was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then, more than $3.5 million has been raised by the Bicycle Motocross community to battle blood-related diseases.