J.D. pushing his skills © Ryan Stubenrauch

J.D. pushing his skills © Ryan Stubenrauch

J.D. Kimple trains for and races with a purpose: to support Wounded Warrior Project and to commemorate his son.

by J.D. Kimple

Most people who race bicycles for money are looking to put cash in their pockets. The better the finish, the better the pay – it’s a way to earn a living doing something they enjoy, or at least some payoff for all the hard work they’ve put in. But we’ve decided to try a different angle: racing bikes to raise money as proud supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project.

Why and how did we come up with that idea?

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 we couldn’t really come up with an idea that really seemed to resonate. Over two years we worked out and planned different events and things we could do. As a cyclist, I was aware that there are lots of charity rides that raise money for a variety of causes. But we weren’t sure of the best way to go – plan a long ride and ask for donations per mile or hold an event ride and have everyone pay an entry fee/donation. If we went with the event ride, when would we hold it that didn’t interfere with any of the other rides that were starting to crowd the Central Ohio bike ride calendar? Would we start our own foundation or non-profit? What exactly would we raise the money for?

I knew that what I wanted to do was something that involved riding bicycles. When James was last home on leave around Christmas of 2007, 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 of a shakedown ride. It was just the two of us out for a long easy ride. We had some good conversations. That was 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 I feel that it’s time for me to hold up my end of the bargain. I knew that whatever we did, it would be called “Riding with my Son.” That phrase just popped in my head over a year ago and just seemed right regardless of what we would end up doing.

While looking at the ways we could do good in James’ memory, we pursued many ideas. However, in the spring of this year 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. Whether through caregiver retreats, combat stress programs, career and education services, or adaptive sporting opportunities, Wounded Warrior Project’s vision is to help make this generation of wounded warriors the most successful and well-adjusted in our nation’s history.” As well, WWP also has a very low administrative/operating expense, much better than most non-profit organizations.

These ideas simmered in the back of my brain for at least several months before they coalesced. Not just a charity bike ride, not just race cyclocross, but combine the two – racing ’cross for a worthy cause. The Wounded Warrior Project was just that cause.

Jovid mid-race © Ryan Stubenrauch

Jovid mid-race © Ryan Stubenrauch

I discussed this with my wife and she thought it was a good idea. Then we discussed this idea with our sons, and Jovid said that he would race with me. Of course I approached Wounded Warrior Project and Cap City Cross concerning this idea, and with green lights from all angles our fundraiser is now a go.

“Hey, we’re all set now!” I thought. We’re discovering that there are many small hiccups along the way, but nothing we can’t deal with. For instance this is our first full season of racing as the previous year I only participated in the last two races of the year and Jovid had never even thought of riding cyclocross before now. So I tweaked my ’cross bike for Jovid to race and assembled a bike for myself which I completed just in time to ride the Frankenbike 50. Many thanks to Chuck at OK Velo (Tulsa, OK) and Rick and his crew at Cyclist Connection (Canal Winchester, OH) for helping us get our bikes to the starting line. Thanks are also in order for Shel-Shok for helping in getting the word out and organizing the words we wanted to get out.

Alright, we’re really racing! We’re also really ready to suffer! We are not blazing out of the gates, but all things considered we’re doing alright. Jovid started fair, and then started working weekend nights, which temporarily took him out of racing. I don’t get to ride much during the week as I am a field service engineer by day, traveling all over Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and other various locales. But I’ve been slowly moving up from mid-pack Cs. And at the last Cap City race, I ran with the Bs, due to a challenge from several contributors and my wife. Good thing was, I wasn’t DFL! I didn’t die! It also allowed me to see I was getting gapped in the hairpins and off-camber turns. Not bad for a guy who gets to plug away for an hour or so twice a week.

Now we are racing to raise funds, but how do we actually get the contributions? Join our team or make a donation! Donations can be made at any time during the cyclocross season (now until 12-Dec-2010) online through our website. You can register as a team member on the same page as well. Follow our efforts/musings online where we keep you up to date on progress, results and all things in between. Of course you can track us down at the Cap City races – Jovid and I will be wearing the WWP Proud Supporter jerseys. And people who would rather not make their contributions electronically can send a check or money order to us at this address:

J.D. Kimple
PO Box 222
Carroll, Ohio 43112
(If you are sending a check or money order, it should be made out to “Wounded Warrior Project”.)

Let’s have some fun with this, too. Make a challenge. Throw down the gauntlet. Let us know you’ll toss in an extra $X if we reach the podium in a race or run with the A group, for example (What? Do you really want me to die?). Or tie your incentive to the year-end results. Also, you don’t have to be local nor a racer to join our fundraising team. Just a desire to help the Wounded Warrior Project.

We certainly appreciate your time, consideration and contributions. Thank you.

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