In 2002, David Wysong and his eight-year old son Jason went to the track to practice. Like any eight-year old, Jason was amped with excitement and once his dad gave him the OK, he took off on his 50cc dirt bike. David quickly got behind him and the two enjoyed father-son bonding for a few laps.
As he always did on track days, David ensured the course was safe and not overly crowded for Jason before taking off on a "hot lap." He'd pass Jason and be right back behind him in about three minutes. David took off but quickly realized his helmet was unstrapped so he stopped to fix the situation. At this point Jason should have caught up but was nowhere to be found. Fearing he crashed, David turned around and went looking for him.
David found Jason on the backside of a jump unconscious and not breathing. After performing CPR, David got his son breathing again and that was the start of a very long and expensive recovery process. Read more about Jason's Story.
A few years later David met Bruce Vermeulen through a discussion on KTMTalk.com on ways to give back to their sport. Bruce learned about David's son and along with Joe Frontier the three men organized a plan to develop a non-profit organization ready to assist an injured rider at a moment's notice.
Since 2008, MotoSport.com has matched our customer's donations dollar-for-dollar up to $40,000 a year. To date, MotoSport's donation to RiderDown is nearly $245,000.
Non-Profit Name: RiderDown Foundation
Year Founded: 2005
Who Founded: Bruce Vermeulen, David Wysong, Joe Frontiero.
Where Headquartered: Evergreen, Colorado
Number of Riders Helped: 500 plus
Average amount of yearly aid: $100,000
Mission: The RiderDown Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping responsible off road motorcyclists and ATV racers who have been injured while riding. Proceeds are used to provide assistance to the riders and their families when faced with medical expenses and related issues.
- How did RiderDown get started?
The three of us met online at a website called KTMTalk.com when we all were riding and racing KTM motorcycles. We all loved the sport and got in to a conversation about wanting to give something back to the sport that had brought us so much fun and excitement. One thing led to another and RiderDown was born.
- Starting any type of business is difficult - what were the obstacles you faced in getting RiderDown off the ground?
Time - we all had full time jobs. Money - we had way more injured riders than we had donations. Name recognition - we were giving out thousands of wristbands and stickers, going to as many races as we could where we would set up tents and talk to as many people as possible. It was a long hard fight to get the donations flowing in.
- What's the process for a rider to request aid?
Go to our website and fill out an Injured Rider Form.
- Does RiderDown provide assistance for every request or are there criteria you've established that needs to be met?
At the beginning, we did try to provide financial assistance to every injured rider that we determined was riding or racing responsibly. However, as time went by and we continued to grow as an organization we realized that the need was much greater and the severity of the injuries was more life changing than we ever knew. As time went on we still gave support to the riders with broken bones and such, but the majority of our support was directed to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI). These riders and their families needed our immediate help and support on an ongoing base.
- What can a downed rider expect once they have reached out to you?
They will receive a call from one of our Injured Rider Advocates to determine what level of help is needed.
- Is there a specific accident story you can share that illustrates RiderDown's impact?
There is not any one story that illustrates RiderDown's impact, there are hundreds. When it comes to TBI or SCI cases, the riders and their families are so devastated that their whole world seems to fall apart. In the process of providing financial and moral support we will often meet with them when schedules permit and the tears of gratitude and sadness can be overwhelming. All of us at RiderDown have been involved in these type of cases and the changes that we as an organization and individually go through because of this experience produce changes in us that will last a lifetime.
- Where do you see RiderDown in the future?
I would love to see our doors closed because we are no longer needed. It would be fantastic if serious injuries were a thing of the past because safety equipment was improved to the point that TBI and SCI injuries were rare and not an every week occurrence as they are now. In reality, I would like to see more corporate funding so that we can provide more substantial help to all the seriously injured amateur riders that are out in the marketplace buying the motorcycles that make the large corporations successful. This additional funding could allow RiderDown to set up even better systems to help the riding community throughout the country.
- How is Jason Wysong doing?
Thank you for asking, Jason is doing great. He is now 20 years old and taking some classes at Lone Star College plus working a couple days a week for a painting contractor. He still struggles with some short term memory issues which continue to improve every year. Physically he is 100 percent and works out every day. Jason rode the MS 150 this year with his dad, which is a bicycle ride from Houston to Austin for Multiple Sclerosis. We are very proud of him.
Written By: AndrewT