Growing up in a suburb of Minneapolis, a place that’s almost as well known for its hard winters as it is for its abundance of lakes, choosing to pursue the sport of motocross was certainly an odd choice for Ryan Dungey. However, doing the unexpected ultimately became a trademark of a decorated racing career in which Ryan consistently defied the odds and proved that with passion and determination, anything is possible. You simply just need an opportunity.
Thanks to an unwavering commitment from his family to help him chase his motocross dreams, Ryan was able to grow into a gifted talent. His work ethic, humble attitude, and willingness to learn drew the attention of the sport’s elite, manufacturer-funded programs and allowed Ryan to sign a “factory” contract at the age of 16, despite being a virtual unknown to the majority of the motocross industry.
While it could be argued that his team took a chance on unproven potential, for Ryan it served as an opportunity to show what he’s capable of. The unexpected signing paid off immediately and what followed over the next decade was one of motocross’ most successful careers, with nine championships and 92 wins between 2007 and 2017.
Throughout his career, a significant motivator for Ryan was his desire to pay it forward. Whether it was showing his parents that the sacrifices they made were worth it, proving to his teams that they made the right decision in choosing him to represent them, or making sure that all the hard work he put into his craft, fitness, and overall health paid off, the end goal has always been to leave no doubts. To put everything he has into the task at hand and be satisfied with the results.
As his presence on the track flourished, Ryan was inspired to use his success for good away from motocross. He suffered the tragic loss of his grandmother to cancer in 2005, just as his motocross future was set to take off, and her memory became a fixture of Ryan’s whole career with a sticker on his helmet honoring her life. He continued her fight against cancer by joining the quest to find a cure alongside St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, bringing smiles and optimism to affected youth all over the country and generating crucial funds for continued research.
In 2012, Ryan and St. Jude partnered to create a benefit cycling event known as the MN Major River-to-River Ride. It provided an opportunity for Ryan to use his passion for being on two wheels as a resource to fundraise for St. Jude’s mission. The event soon became an annual tradition and evolved to be known as the St. Jude Ride and 5K Run, where thousands of participants helped raise more than $1.2 million for the cause.
For the past decade Ryan has never wavered in his commitment to St. Jude’s cause. In addition to all the invaluable support generated from his own event, he proudly served as the organization’s ambassador for the entire motocross industry, leading the charge through a number of fundraising initiatives within the racing community to help further cancer research. With the establishment of the Ryan Dungey Foundation, his support of St. Jude now has the opportunity to evolve, with greater involvement and more fundraising opportunities.
Because of the joy and successes being on two wheels brought Ryan, from his early youth and throughout his career, his desire to share that passion with others led him to a connection with All Kids Bike. Riding brought a sense of freedom and opened a world of endless opportunity for Ryan. The idea that you can go anywhere and do anything. He fully embraced this notion and it changed his life. By introducing elementary-age youth all over the country to two wheels Ryan hopes to cultivate the next generation’s ability to discover their own passions, by providing them with the opportunity to engage in one of childhood’s most rewarding experiences.
No matter who they are, or what situation they might find themselves in, our youth will show us what they’re capable of, as long as they’re provided an opportunity to do so. Whether it’s fostering a sense of hope for the children and families battling cancer by reenergizing their spirits, or broadening their view of the world by introducing them to a bicycle, the Ryan Dungey Foundation is committed to giving youth the opportunity to grow and be their best selves.
For more information on the Ryan Dungey Foundation, including signing up to receive direct communication about ways to donate and get involved, please visit RyanDungeyFoundation.org. Additionally, follow the Ryan Dungey Foundation on Instagram, @ryandungeyfoundation.