THE RACE FOR LIFE
HOW THE RACE FOR LIFE STARTED - THE TODD KINGSBURY STORY
Like many 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 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, enduing 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 the Waterford Oaks, MI BMX track. Todd was to be the honorary race director for that race and told a reporter, “This (event) might help keep other people from getting it (leukemia).”
Todd passed away on Sept. 13, 1981 and was laid to rest in his 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 children like Todd will have the opportunity to live full lives.