By all accounts, Zachary Tompkins was an 11 year-old vibrant and healthy young boy who loved football. The Hudson, New Hampshire resident loved football so much that he dreamed of building his own football stadium as a home for the team he played for - the Hudson Litchfield Bears.
Just two weeks after he inscribed the words "Zach's Stadium - Home of the Bears" on a pottery plate, his mother tried waking him for school and found him unresponsive. Zach had passed from an undetected genetic heart disease called Long QT syndrome.
It's been three years and the Tompkins family made good on their son's wishes and have not only secured land by donation from the town of Hudson, but raised $400,000 towards the $1 million needed to start construction. On Saturday, the second annual Ride for Zach adds to the fund-raising effort and organizers hope the 2013 turnout is larger than the inaugural ride.
"Last year the turnout was 15 riders due to a rainy day but some of the riders who did not make it made donations," said Joanne Tompkins, family spokeswoman and Zach's grandmother. "This year we have had many inquiries from biker groups and are hoping to have at least 100 riders."
A 25-year lease on the property was signed in 2010 and the Tompkins family celebrated a ground breaking ceremony in October. They were joined by then-New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, a congressman and additional state representatives, among other dignitaries. Once built, Zach's Stadium benefits children from the second- to eighth-grade. The donated property is already cleared of trees and leveled.
"We are taking it in stages, we are hoping to have the turf laid this year so the kids can play," Tompkins said.
The motorcycle ride is just one of many fund-raisers the Tompkins family has organized. All money raised through Ride for Zach benefit the Zachary M. Tompkins Memorial Fund which goes directly towards funding the stadium. Ride for Zach starts in Hudson, continues to Peterborough and Milton, and then back to Hudson.
"Once the stadium is built, we hope to add a playground and baseball diamond," Tompkins said.
Other Rides Scheduled this Weekend
Jeff Common Memorial Run September 7: This memorial run is a tribute to Jeff Common, a volunteer firefighter with North Bend, North Bay and Coos Bay fire departments in Oregon. He died in the line of duty in 2002. Proceeds benefit the Jeff Common Line of Duty Death Memorial Foundation. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and a shotgun start is at 9:30 a.m. at Mill Casino and Hotel, 3201 Tremont Ave. in North Bend, OR.
Ride for the Red September 7: Proceeds from this ride benefit the Kansas Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. Register online or in person starting at 7:30 a.m. at Heartland Park Topeka, 7530 SW Topeka Blvd. in Topeka, KS.
FireRide September 7: A tribute ride to fallen firefighters sponsored by America’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial. Register online or in person at South Valley Harley-Davidson, 8886 S. Sandy Parkway Blvd. in Sandy, UT. Kickstands up at 9:30 a.m.
Lakeland Hospice Ride September 7: The 12th annual Hospice Ride is a freewill donation and all proceeds benefit the Lakeland Hospice Foundation. Register online or in person at 10:30 a.m. at 1505 Pebble Lake Road in Fergus Falls, MN. Kickstands up at 12 p.m.
USMC Toys for Tots Ride September 7: Join the annual Toys for Tots Ride! Registration begins at 9 a.m. and kickstands up at 11 a.m. at AMVETS Post 12, 754 Montgomery St. in Chicopee, MA.
Ride for Health and Heroes September 8: Proceeds for this ride help purchase infant warmers for the special care nursery at Hendricks Regional Health and supports families of fallen law enforcement officers. Register online or in person at 10 a.m. at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds and Conference Complex, 1900 E. Main St. in Danville, IN. Ride departs at 11 a.m.
Ride for Kids September 8: Ride for Kids benefits the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and features numerous rides throughout the country during the year. This weekend kickstands are up in Puget Sound, WA, Indianapolis, and Birmingham, AL.
Written By: AndrewT