Sam Vs. Sports, Sam Ali competes in BMX 'Race for Life'

MARQUETTE — ABC 10’s Sam Ali and Andrew Lorinser will be live Tuesday from Marquette’s BMX course to compete in ‘Race for Life’. Tune into ABC 10’s Facebook page for the live feed.

For over 30 years, USABMX has held Race For Life events throughout the country to raise funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Since the inception of the ABA Race For Life series in 1981, BMX riders and tracks have raised more than $3.3 million in support of the Society’s mission.

The event starts today at 6 p.m. at the tracks. Races began in 1981 in memory of Todd Kingsbury, a young BMX rider from Michigan.

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 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 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 other people from getting it (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 ABA 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.