When I started the Ryan Dungey Foundation in July it was the culmination of a career’s-worth of giving back and trying to use my position as a way to help others. From the moment becoming a professional racer became a reality, I had a strong desire to make my career about more than myself. The loss of my grandmother to cancer had a significant impact on me, and it gave me perspective on everything. Who are we without those who support us? Most importantly, who are we without family? I had an incredible opportunity ahead of me that very few get and I wanted to make the most of that, both on and off the track.
The idea for starting my own foundation was one of the first thoughts I had as soon as I turned pro, so I sought ways to get involved in charitable efforts early in my career. I jumped at the chance to be an ambassador for Livestrong and get first-hand experience giving back. That then led me to become a supporter and partner of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, a relationship that continues to this day and has helped raise more than a million dollars for the fight against childhood cancer.
The many years of commitment to St. Jude’s cause allowed me to learn of various ways that I could potentially help them further, beyond our annual run and bike fundraiser and more recent efforts with Supercross. With racing behind me, I could now give the dedication I felt was necessary to start a foundation. It was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
Now, the Ryan Dungey Foundation is just learning to ride, so to speak. Our mission is to create opportunities for the next generation of children, primarily by tapping into the communal joy of two wheels. We’re a week removed from our first fundraising event, Opportunity Awaits, and we’re still pushing to continue to raise more money for our beneficiaries, St. Jude and All Kids Bike, an organization that is putting bikes in elementary schools all over the country to get more kids on two wheels.
I’m still in awe of how well the event was received, how many people joined us for the ride day, and how much support we received from the motocross community, in so many different ways. We called it a ride day for everyone, because we wanted to encourage even those who had never ridden a motorcycle to come and potentially discover a new passion. I’m honored to say that more than 500 participants took advantage of the opportunity to tap into their passion for the greater good.
Thus far, we’ve raised more than $70,000 and I’m humbled by the way both the foundation and the event have been embraced. Most importantly, it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of some dear friends. Fox Racing had my back for virtually my entire career and still stands by me to this day. KTM was the manufacturer that helped me achieve so much success and now they’re doing the same to ensure the foundation is a success. STACYC Stability Cycle and Strider Bikes came on board eager to get kids on two wheels, and have already gone above and beyond.
It was also so much fun to reconnect with my old racing counterparts. Ken Roczen, Ivan Tedesco, Jeff Emig, Grant Langston, and David Pingree all joined me out on the track to spin laps with everyone who came out. We even had a couple leaders of the sport’s future join us in Max Vohland and Haiden Deegan. For all of these racers to donate their time and rub elbows with the people who cheer them on from the sidelines is truly something special and it’s what Opportunity Awaits was about, riding with a purpose.
I can’t forget to also express the excitement I felt in introducing my first pop-up for RD Coffee. Thanks to the help of a longtime friend who also played an important role in my career we were able to bring our coffee to the people. It was a special moment and I’m excited for the potential of more ways to offer RD Coffee in person.
Lastly, the efforts of the Ryan Dungey Foundation would not be possible without the support of its founding partners — Fox Racing, KTM North America, Inc., Kutzler Express, Inc., North American Trailer, Next Level Sports, and Strider Sports International, Inc. - thank you all.