• September 17, 2019

Upper Twp. BMX rider wants big trophy — for fundraising - Ocean City Sentinel: News

Upper Twp. BMX rider wants big trophy — for fundraising

Ryland Bricker sets sights higher after earning top spot in 2018

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Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2019 11:24 am

UPPER TOWNSHIP — A 9-year-old Marmora boy wanted to follow his dad’s example and raise money for a cause that inspired him. So far this year, he’s brought in more than $10,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as part of the Race for Life effort through USA BMX. 

In 2018, Ryland Bricker was the top fundraiser in the country for the organization, an accomplishment he aims to repeat this year, but with a greater total. 

Ryland races at the Egg Harbor Township BMX track. His father, Nick Bricker, said he has not been racing long but is dedicated to the sport, one his dad said he only began as something to do on an otherwise boring spring day. 

“He started racing BMX last year and he instantly fell in love with it,” Bricker said. 

“I like to win,” Ryland said. “I like to get trophies taller than me, which I can only do once a year.” 

According to Bricker, in order to participate in BMX events, riders must have a home course, one that’s part of USA BMX. For Ryland, the closest is in Egg Harbor Township. The initials stand for bicycle motocross, a sport with roots in the 1970s when kids began riding dirt tracks inspired by motocross racing. It’s grown into a nationwide phenomenon. 

Ryland’s passion has led Bricker to do something he said he never would do — travel for his son’s team. The family has headed to Pittsburgh, Virginia, New York and Oklahoma for events. 

It was through those events that Ryland learned of the Race for Life project, which began as a way for BMX riders to raise money for one of their own. In 1981, Todd Kingsbury of Michigan was diagnosed with leukemia. Members of the American Bicycle Association raised money for him and his family. 

Todd died Sept. 13, 1981. Since then, the Race for Life has continued, with all proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. 

“My dad does a lot of fundraising. I said, ‘Dad, I want to do something to help people with cancer,’” Ryland said recently.

Bricker thought it would be a good experience. He planned to help, but not take over the project. 

“It’s important that he learns the importance of helping other people and he has to do the work as well,” Bricker said. 

Last year, he said, Ryland raised more than $7,000. About 12 other riders from the Egg Harbor Township BMX organization also participated. The total was just over $12,000. 

This year, Bricker said, the plan was to increase the goal to $8,000. Fundraising continues until October, so as Ryland met previous goals, they’ve decided to increase the amount. As of a recent interview, the total was at $11,480, with a current goal of $12,000. 

“The main goal here is to help people. Ryland said to me, ‘If we meet our goal, why do we have to stop?’ I said, ‘You’re right.’ As he reaches a goal, we reset it,” Bricker said. 

A real estate agent in the area and an avid surfer, Bricker said he is involved with a number of organizations and has raised money for several causes and charities. He has donation buckets out around the area, and has tried other methods of getting attention, including offering to shave his head if enough people pledged. 

Bricker said Ryland wanted to auction off his old toys, but instead, Bricker sold chances on a surfboard donated by local shaper Brian Winn at $20 a shot. That raised $800. Other organizations have also chipped in. 

“We’ve reached out to a lot of local businesses who have been extremely supportive,” Bricker said. 

He does not want to keep hitting up the same people, he said, so they’re working on new ideas to bring in additional donations. 

The reason they traveled to Oklahoma last year was for the annual Grand Nationals in Tulsa over Thanksgiving weekend, what Bricker described as the Super Bowl of BMX. 

“People from all over the world come to this thing,” he said. “Saturday night is spectacular. Right in the middle of the track they do a big presentation,” Bricker said. 

Ryland received a new bike in recognition of his efforts and a crystal award. 

Ryland insists he wasn’t nervous getting up in front of that crowd. 

“I somewhat got used to it. Every year at my school we have a concert. My dad shouts out my name and I’m really very popular,” he said. 

Don’t believe it, his dad suggested. 

“He was nervous as he could be,” Bricker said. 

That doesn’t mean he does not want to be back with his dad and mom, Liz, this year as the top fundraiser again.

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