J.D. Kimple trains for and races with a purpose: to support Wounded Warrior Project and to commemorate his son.
by J.D. Kimple
My son Jovid and I are in our second year of racing cyclocross to raise money as proud supports of Wounded Warrior Project. Some may recall the article on cxmagazine.com from last year, but for those who do not, here is a bit of background: On May 2nd, 2008, our son, Lcpl. James Kimple, was killed in action while serving his country on his second tour of duty in Iraq. From this sadness, we’ve wanted to turn this into something positive. My wife and I have wanted to do something in James’ memory, but over the next several years nothing seemed to really resonate. However, in the Spring of 2010, my wife and I attended a motorcycle ride to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. At that ride, we met several soldiers who are not only involved with WWP, but who had originally received assistance from the Wounded Warrior Project. I talked with these men and was intrigued by what they represented. I followed it up with some research on them and liked what I saw. From the WWP: “WWP provides programs and services to assist injured veterans and their families during their recovery, rehabilitation and transition.” Additionally, WWP also has a very low administrative/operating expense, much better than most non-profit organizations.
I knew that what I wanted to do was something that involved riding bicycles. The last time James was home on leave was Christmas of 2007 and I had just finished building a bike for him to ride around base (Camp Pendleton). He came over the Saturday before Christmas and we took his bike out on a “shakedown ride.” It was just the two of us out for a long easy ride. We had some good conversations. That was, little did I know at the time, the last father-son time I had with him. Additionally, one of the last memories of my son occurred during several email exchanges while James was deployed in Iraq. I mentioned that I was interested in participating in cyclocross racing. James thought it was a good idea and encouraged me to pursue it. Now it’s time for me to hold up my end of the bargain. These ideas simmered in the back of my brain for at least several months before they coalesced. Not just a charity bike ride and not just racing cyclocross, but to combine the two – racing ’cross for a worthy cause. The Wounded Warrior Project was just that cause.
We asked J.D a few questions about his project:
Cyclocross Magazine: How long has this project been going on now?
J.D Kimple: This is the second year we’ve been raising money as Proud Supporters of Wounded Warrior Project.
CXM: What have the results so far been?
JK: Overall, very good. But it’s so back and forth. Last year, leading up to the race at Smith Farms, donations would come in at a trickle and I thought we were not getting much traction. But then the donations from Cap City Cross and the racers at last year’s Smith Farms race was phenomenal. Along with that, a fellow racer, Ryan Stubenrauch, helped make a few contacts and we got some local newspaper coverage (front page!) which helped bring in a few more donations, which blew my mind.
CXM: How has the bike community reacted to your project?
JK: Fantastic! We couldn’t ask for a better group of people to race and ride with. Even if we’re just out riding the trails and I happen upon someone who’s read or heard about the story, they usually mention it at some point during the conversation and it sets me back on my heels a bit. I’m flattered that these people remember what I’m trying to do when there are so many other things going on as well.
CXM: What’s the goal for the year?
JK: This year I’d like to crest $2,500 in contributions. Given how last year went at the Cap City Cross Smith Farms race, I think it’s obtainable. I’d really like to reach $5,000 but I’m trying to be realistic.
CXM: How has your season been going?
JK: Racing-wise, not where I had initially hoped but realistically I’m doing pretty good. I’m a Field Service guy so most of the week long I’m travelling from site to site and crashing in hotels. I don’t get a lot of ride time in, so all things considered I manage to do well on the course. I think overall I’m second in C, and 7th or 8th in Masters 40+. Plus it’s only my second year of racing anything so there’s a lot of learning going on. Next year … but we all say that, right?
CXM: Any company sponsors for the project? Any interest in getting some?
JK: Ric at Cyclist Connection has been a big help, and Westerville Bike Shop helps out, too. Last year we got a bit of help from Road ID also, but when I asked most other companies, it was too late in the fiscal year and they had already made their philanthropic allocations. Yes, I am very interested in getting sponsorship or donations from anyone interested. If a company wants to stand up and say “We need to help these wounded veterans” then I will gladly promote them in any way possible. Or if, as in one case, a company would rather donate product, then I will “purchase” that product by putting an equivalent amount towards Wounded Warrior Project.
CXM: What would your Stomach of Anger t-shirt look like if you were to design one for this project? (Like how Meredith Miller has her Pretty In Mud shirt for Breast Cancer Awareness)
JK: That’s a good one. Hmm. There’s a phrase I picked up from some Marines that I put on stem of our bikes – “Die First Then Quit” – that seems to work well for me in cyclocross. Honestly, in my second race I was about 2/3 of the way through the race and I was toast, ready to give up and just soft pedal the rest of the way. The first thing that came into my mind was a picture of a patch with that phrase on it. Since then, that phrase seems to work for me. Yeah, that phrase in big letters would be cool. That would be wig-out ultra-awesome-tastic. It seems somewhat morbid given the subject matter, I know. But if you know any Marines, you know what their mindset is. And hey – these Wounded Warriors could have turned around and quit but they didn’t. We shouldn’t quit on them.
CXM: How can someone help/donate/get involved?
PO Box 222
Carroll, OH 43112.
If someone is interested in helping or getting involved, feel free to email me at jdkimple(at)yahoo.com with whatever is on their mind.
What I thought was an off-kilter idea (raising money by racing bicycles) turns out to not be so odd. World Bicycle Relief was the beneficiary of “Racing Cross for a Cause” during the National Championships in Bend, Oregon, last year. Meredith Miller has been racing to support Breast Cancer fundraising efforts and Niki Dallaire is leading the charge on the Racin’ for Riley team. Heck, there’s even Team Type 1, which grew to not only be a cycling team competing in the Race Across America, but now has a Mens & Womens professional cycling teams, a Developmental squad, a triathlon team and a running team. Guess I’m in good company.
Thank you for the time and consideration.