ATVSource.com | Calendar | ATV/UTV Forums | ATV/UTV Reviews | ATV/UTV News | ATV/UTV Product Reviews | ATV/UTV Racing | ATV/UTV Trails | ATV/UTV Videos

Articles
ATV Bone
Machine Reviews
Press Releases
Product Reviews
Racing
Trailheads
Videos
Manufacturers

» Arctic Cat

» ATK/Cannondale

» Can-Am

» E-Ton America

» Honda

» Kasea

» Kawasaki

» KTM

» Polaris

» Suzuki

» Yamaha

ATV Clubs
Calendar
Classified Ads
Forums


 

By Robert Janis

There’s Help for Riders Down

Rider Down FoundationATV racers who experience injury as the result of a track crash probably believe that only their family and friends will provide support. Actually, there is an organization that was founded about one and a half years ago that can offer not just emotional support but financial help. That organization is called the RiderDown Foundation (http://www.RiderDown.org).

Four strangers who met in an online forum actually created the non-profit group. While trading notes, experiences, and ideas in the forum the four realized that they shared a passion for racing and had other common interests. Forum communications lead the way to e-mails and phone calls. Then the four began to imagine creating a for-profit company involved in some way with motorcycle racing. It was decided that a business plan should be drawn up for such a company.

Then, one of the four, Bruce Vermeulen, said something that changed everything. He said, “If we are going to do this we need to give something back to the sport. We need to do something along the line of starting a fund for injured riders.”

“That went over big,” explained Vermeulen, who is now president and a member of the board of RiderDown. “Everyone liked the idea.”

So the business plan was tweaked for an establishment of a non-profit entity. “The idea for a for-profit company was put on the back burner. However, the idea of a non-profit organization had such a force behind it, and because we had such enthusiasm for it, it seemed the time was right to do it. We all believed that we had to get started with it right away. We all contributed our own money, a lot of time, and a lot of energy to form this company.”

So the four strangers became the founders and are now the current board members of The RiderDown Foundation. Along with Vermeulen the others are: Joe Frontiero, a resident of Florida; David Wysong of Houston, Texas; and Art Jurado, Half Moon Bay, California. Vermeulen lives in Evergreen, Colorado. The headquarters of RiderDown is Colorado.

An interesting side note--the families of the four men who started the foundation didn’t meet face-to-face until after RiderDown was incorporated.

Help Is Available
According to Vermeulen, help for riders varies depending on the situation of the rider. The organization sends out volunteers to visit the injured rider to give emotional support. In addition, RiderDown has developed a relationship with American Medical Bill Review. Once the injured rider and his family starts to receive the medical bills, American Medical Bill Review will review the bills to make certain that the rider is not being overcharged for a procedure, and then they will help to negotiate financial savings for the rider. And in some cases RiderDown will make direct payments to medical providers if the injured rider can’t pay the bills.

The organization is also trying to work out group health and accident insurance for riders. Vermeulen noted that there are a lot of legal issues that must be tackled, but the organization is very serious about coming up with something. RiderDown will keep interested people informed about this on their website as events warrant.

Injured riders can notify RiderDown that they need help by filling out an Injured Rider Intake Form on the RiderDown website. Simply go to the site (http://www.RiderDown.org), or one can e-mail their need for help to info@RiderDown.org. In just the last year and a half hundreds of injured riders have been helped.

Motivation for Starting the Organization
Each of the four original founders had their own personal reasons for participating in the formation of RiderDown.

Vermeulen has three children and he sees them racing and riding motorcycles at some point in their lives. “I just wanted to give something back to the sport because of them, kind of a pay-it-forward thing.” he said. He also volunteered that he has experienced a couple of racing accidents himself, once breaking a hip, resulting in some metal rods and screws. “I was fortunate. Because of my lifestyle and profession (he has been a financial advisor for the past 25 years) I was still able to work. I could sit down with clients or at a computer and do my thing. However, it made me think of all those who might have to climb a ladder or swing a hammer to earn a living. What would they do?”

Another board member’s son, Jason Wysong, was tragically injured in a crash on a local MX track, continued Vermeulen. An adult rider on a larger bike launched off a jump and landed on Jason resulting in serious injuries. Jason was in a coma for almost four weeks. During that period members of the local riding community came together and raised money for the family. The outpouring of support made a lasting impression. For more, go to Jason's Story at the RiderDown.org website.

Board member Art Jurado was a desert racer on the West Coast for years. Because Art has a son with a disability, he understands all too well the pain and frustrations some families must endure when dealing with such challenges. He also sees the possibilities and potential of those whose lives have changed so dramatically.

Joe Frontiero, the organization’s East Coast founding member, “has always been driven to give back to the things he loves. We’re all fortunate that he has a deep passion for riding.” Vermeulen said. “Joe has a huge heart and it’s always in the right place. Helping his fellow riders immediately struck home, that was it, he was in.”

“We’ve all been exposed to it. It was time to do something about it,” explained Vermeulen.

Despite the fact that all of the founders reside in different parts of the country, the group manages to hold weekly board meetings via free voice over internet conference calls. “The meetings deal with all of the logistical issues like tax and legal concerns, injured rider reviews, safety matters and of course fundraising.” said Vermeulen.

The organization raises funds any way it can. There are a variety of fund raisers running concurrently. “We have everything from a group doing a penny drive where they have jars in bike shops, at company offices, and even in government offices,” said Vermeulen. “There is a boy scout troop that has pasted our flyers on to jars and placed the jars in prominent locations. We have a phone fund campaign where people can donate their old cellular phones, digital cameras, laptop computers, and things like that to us, and then we turn around and give these items to an organization that refurbishes them and then gives them to needy families. That group gives us a certain amount of money for each item we contribute, and then the money goes into the foundation.

"Then there are pledge drives,” continued Vermeulen. “We have one pledge drive going on with Bevo Forte of Scott Goggles. He issued a challenge to people in the motorsport industry to pledge money on a per pound basis to match the amount of weight he loses from the opening Toronto Supercross to the season finale in Las Vegas held in May. That’s been a whole lot of fun and it’s gotten a lot of industry insiders involved.

In addition, KTM North America and Malcolm Smith Motorsports provided a bike to the foundation which they raffled off.

The organization also raises money by sponsoring rides. For example, RiderDown in the Rockies has an annual event that takes place in the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado in conjunction with an outdoor national MX race in Lakewood, Colorado. The event includes trail rides, give aways, bench racing and barbecue.

And this year RacerX and Racer Productions has joined RiderDown with the organization of The Passion Tour. “We will be holding special events at a lot of the tracks where the Loretta Lynn Amateur qualifying events are taking place,” said Vermeulen. These events could include rides, special events and possible appearances of racers.

A number of clubs, districts, and tracks have held a variety of fund-raising events as well. Vermeulen explained that RiderDown has presented it’s ARC Angel gear bags to injured mini riders at club banquets and rider meetings. As a result of these presentations, the clubs and track owners have gotten involved and held various raffles or donated a percentage of the track's gate fees to RiderDown. “Once people see that we are all about supporting riders and their families, they are usually ready to pitch in and lend a hand.” said Vermeulen.

The foundation also provides a number of ways individuals can volunteer their time. According to Vermeulen there are at least 40 to 50 active volunteers and there are three to four times more than that stored in the foundation’s databank that can be called to help when needed. Volunteers who live close to where the injured rider lives are contacted and they visit the injured rider to give emotional support and to see how the foundation can provide more assistance. Vermeulen noted that the organization has a Volunteer Coordinator in Pennsylvania that works with volunteers and who uses the database to alert volunteers about where they are needed. “We have people in Canada, Washington State, Oregon, Texas, California, Florida, Ohio, New York, all over the place,” said Vermeulen.

The group’s website has a page that suggests other ways people can help. For example, people can sign up to be a “Contact Person for an Injured Rider in My Area.” These volunteers are called ARC Angels and they are the ones who make personal visits to injured riders. People who sign up to provide “Administrative Support” are responsible for following up on e-mails, writing articles, making posts at websites, and putting flyers in shops. These volunteers can download or print the flyers directly from the RiderDown.org website or the organization will send flyers to the volunteers via traditional mail. People who volunteer to “Staff the RiderDown Booths at Amateur and Pro Events” are expected to go out to amateur and pro racing events, set up a RiderDown booth and distribute RiderDown paraphernalia including wristbands, T-shirts, and brochures in order to get the word out about RiderDown. And finally, people can volunteer to organize fund raising ticket and gear sales at local events.

There is also a store at the RiderDown.org website which sells T-shirts, hats, and hooded sweatshirts. Proceeds from the sales are used to help riders. Vermeulen volunteered that more items will be added for sale. “Powersport Grafx is one of our original sponsors and they are putting together a line of custom graphics with the RiderDown logo on it. The graphics will be sold at the website store and the proceeds will go to RiderDown,” he said.

In just the past year and a half, RiderDown has raised about $40,000 to $50,000 and has its sights set on growing well beyond that in future years. “Helping Riders Up” is more than just their motto; it’s what they’re doing.


Share This Talk About This In Our Forums