By Bill Landon
Riders from near and far converged at the BMX track in Shoreham for the USA BMX Race for Life event, where all entry fees were donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society — the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
The event began in 1981, when 12-year-old Michigan BMX rider Todd Kingsbury’s friends and the American Bicycle Association learned of his Leukemia diagnosis, and decided that an organized effort should be made to help in Todd’s “race for life.” The first American Bicycle Association “race for life” events were formed that year, with over 130 tracks participating and raising funds for the society.
According to track operator Richard Soper, Shoreham had almost 60 riders register for one or more event, raising $695 total.
“It’s an annual thing that’s been going on for a long time,” Soper said. “We’ve participated for as long as I can remember.”
It was family fun for all ages — the youngest competitors being 2 year olds on straddles, or bikes with no pedals, and the oldest races in the 46 and older category.
The track, which is off Defense Hill road, will be celebrating its 35th year Aug. 5, according to Soper, which will be the site of the New York State championship event Oct. 7.
“When you get a membership [with USA BMX] you can go to any track they want — there’s a group of 30 to 40 people that are here tonight that travel daily to different tracks,” Soper said. “We have people that come from the city, riders from Connecticut; this sport is sanctioned [nationally] and there are over 400 tracks in the country.”
Shoreham BMX enjoys a long-term lease with the Town of Brookhaven for the site at Robert C. Reid Park and rely solely on the volunteer efforts of its members for track maintenance and upgrades.