Reilly Johnson really needs your help right now. Please take a moment to read this through and perhaps pass it on.
Recently within the past few months, Reilly's family has faced some unexpected life-changing, personal challenges regarding the growing needs of one of his siblings. As a result, his mom left her long time career to focus her energy full time on the well being of their family- for as long as it takes. This lost income had been the primary funding for Reilly's BMX dreams. He and his family are trying to make the best of things. They now realize with this unexpected life shift, that they must continue to focus on what's important, and BMX always will be. They have gone as far as they can go on their own in this journey. For the first time, since Reilly began dreaming of being a BMX star at age seven, he needs outside financial help to keep going. Here is Reilly's story.
BMX (bicycle motocross) became a medaling sport in the 2008 Bejing Olympics under the International Cycling Union (UCI). It is an extreme, off-road style bicycling sport consisting of sprint races on single-lap dirt tracks, derived from the motocross racing style. The sport of BMX began in the early 1970's and has come a long way in over 40 years.
*Reilly pictured training with the reigning two-time Olympic gold medalist, Maris Strombergs
Reilly was born early at 38 weeks in 2002. His birth was a long anticipated event, not just by his parents and family members, but by the doctors and specialists who had been watching his development closely. The room was filled with them all, waiting to see what this little guy would be capable of. They had been monitoring for months, his growth and what would be confirmed at his birth as congenital kidney defect; at first, thought to be the result of a fatal syndrome. Fortunately, Reilly's condition would not prove fatal, but would cause his immune system to be continually compromised during his early years. This brought many challenges including countless hospital visits, procedures, tests, and secondary symptoms of a weakened young body; which left him fighting illness after illness. But"š he survived and grew. This would be Reilly's first experience with what it means to battle with all of your strength. What was clear from the start is that Reilly is a true fighter. He was born with gritty determination, and it has only helped him as he's grown older, healthier and overcome many, but not all of the physical challenges stemming from his ongoing condition. Today at eleven years old, nothing can slow him down. Reilly is still a small boy for his age. But his heart and love for BMX is bigger than life.
*Rei's lucky checkered sweatshirt.
Reilly began riding a bike at age four. His step-father Adam Buchanan put he and older brother Hayden, then six, both on bikes at the same time, gave each a push off the driveway into the street, and the rest is history. Reilly took to his bicycle like a duck to water.
It was a few years later in January 2010, Reilly was now seven, that his parents Julie and Adam Buchanan took the family out to their local BMX track in Redmond, Oregon. They went to check it out during the winter, and found the track was still frozen with snow and mud. Reilly was so impressed with what he saw that he begged his parents to take him back out to have a chance to ride. A few months later, after the snow was gone, they brought him out to a local Tuesday night race. Reilly was instantly hooked. His parents could tell by only the second round that he had fallen in love with the sport. In the minutes before the main event, they purchased a well-used mini bike from one of the local families there. Reilly hopped on, took off and never looked back. He won his first race that night. Many commented early on about Reilly's natural skill and ease on the track. How even in his tiny form, it appeared as if he were an old pro, when in reality, he was simply born to ride a bike.
*Riding his new frame for the very first time this past weekend April 2014 at a National. He won the night.
Reilly had a hard-earned first season in BMX racing. With a family dynamic that meant distant summer visits with his father, Paul Johnson, Reilly only had one month of jam-packed racing after that first visit to the local track, to learn the ropes before his departure from his bike for the next three months. Upon his return home that Fall, with just two months left of the season, Reilly hopped back on as if he had never left, and quickly continued to improve. He rode his used little mini frame with all used parts to win race after race against other beginners, intermediates and even experts; children often older and almost always larger than he. Reilly moved through the ranks swiftly, earning a place as an expert-level rider after his 25th win in only his 4th month of dedicated racing.
Reilly was a determined little racer from the start and quickly found his stride. When he was asked to be on his first team, Upright Clothing Company by Jim Kinsey, at the outset of his second season in 2011 at eight years old, he was thrilled to belong in what he felt was more officially, to the sport he had instantly grown to love at the first gate drop. Earning that first jersey will always be a special moment to Reilly in his BMX journey.
By the end of his second season, and after being picked up to ride for Veteran Pro, Adam Treadwell's bike shop team, Black Box Industries-Basic Bike Co, Reilly amazed everyone who watched him as he not only won the top district spot, earning that coveted #1 on his number plate, he was also awarded by his peers and local families, with what he considered something even more special; created specifically with him in mind, making him the very first recipient- the "Upright Clothing Co. Fan Favorite Award." This trophy still sits front and center on the shelf in his room amongst countless bigger title wins. To Rei, this meant he was seen for his heart, not just his skill.
That year Reilly also earned an impressive 2nd place in the State for his eight year old age group. Not too bad for a small little boy whose doctors weren't even sure he'd survive the grim prognosis prior to his birth, or ever be healthy if he did.
In 2012, Reilly's third season was off to an incredible start. He was leading the way in district points, and had won every single state qualifier race, putting him in the position to take the overall win, and earn the Oregon State Championship title that year. This was not to be. He did win a longstanding Northwest race series tradition called the "Governor's Cup" that season. Reilly was fortunate to train with the likes of Pro legend Greg Hill, USA Olympic team member Arielle Martin, and two-time #1 Amateur, Josh Klatman; along with many other notable names in the sport.
At just nine years old, Reilly was lucky to be surrounded with some great role models of bmx and he continued to soak it all in. With having won every State Qualifier, and just weeks before the State Final where he was to complete the Oregon State series and earn his first-ever title for State Champion, Reilly and his family were moved to California for his step-father's job. This personal setback didn't slow nine year old Reilly down one bit. With maturity far beyond his years, he brushed it off, said his good-byes, and told his friends and family he would just have to "start over and win California. No big deal!"
*Reilly won California.
During Reilly's 14 month-long racing career in southern California, he once again quickly made a name for himself. Gaining the district #3 title while finishing out his 2012 season in CA, he went on to win several state qualifying races the following season of 2013. He did have some setbacks with broken bones and other injuries early in the 13' season. This might have tempered another young kid's spirits or slowed their momentum, but not Reilly's. Injury did keep him off his bike and out of racing completely for several weeks of a fresh season, an opporunity he wanted to prove himself a worthy competitor to the many new faces in his new state. This setback didn't stop him. While down, Reilly upheld his training schedule and attended his BMX commitments as the only rider standing rather than practicing, casted, at the starting hill with his mentors. He listened and took mental notes so he could still keep working to improve himself.
*Reilly after a National event at The BMX Olypmic Training Center
With what can only be viewed as a result of his pure natural grit and determination, by the middle of last season, Reilly achieved his first major goal since beginning BMX- winning a State Championship. Reilly had won a hard-fought battle once again. After having a shorter season due to injury, he still managed to win every CA State Qualifier he attended, and then he won the State Final, earning the 2013 State Championship of Southern California for the ten year old expert class.
For the remainder of 2013, Reilly also acheived another huge goal: he added several of his best ever, top 3 main event finishes at National level races to his growing list of BMX accomplishments; including a first-ever, National first place victory. Coincidentally or by fate, his first National win occurred when he traveled back to his hometown for the 2013 Great Northwest Nationals held in RedmondOregon, the same town where he won his very first local race on his used mini bike three years before.
*New Mexico 2013. Reilly's first Podium finish at a National.
*Reilly training with Mike Redman.
*Reilly Training with Cristian Becerine.
*Reilly training with Maris Strombergs and Cristian Becerine. Getting Gold Medalist Maris Stromberg's autograph.
Reilly made use of some amazing training opportunities during his time in California. He was able to meet and train with some of the best in the sport of BMX. He trained several times with BMX ambassador and legend, Mike Redman, owner of factory team, Redman Rockstar. Reilly had been star-struck of Mike since he began racing and first learned about the history of the sport, and so these regular training opportunities were very special for him. Another major highlight came for Reilly in 2013 by getting to train on two occasions with the 2008 and 2012 two-time men's BMX Olympic Gold Medalist Maris Strombergs, as well as Cristian Becerine, the silver medalist at the 2004 UCI World Championships and a semifinalist at the 2008 Summer Olympics. Reilly was taught some invaluable lessons during these training sessions. Some of his biggest take-aways from these top BMX athletes are: always remain humble, never quit, and from Cristian Becerine, who told him to never look at what he puts into to BMX as a sacrifice because, "It's not a sacrifice, if you love it. It's a choice." Reilly agrees wholeheartedly.
Reilly wants more than anything to be able to keep choosing BMX. His entire family continues to stand behind him, supporting him every step of the way. For four years, they have traveled as a family of four, five and now six, to all of his events around the country, cheering him on. Including Reilly's two brothers and sister, who encourage him to keep chasing his dreams. As a family they have chosen to make BMX an important part of their lives since that first local race.
Reilly hopes to one day race for the USA in the Olympics; but for now, he just wants to keep competing. To do so requires thousands of dollars yearly in extensive travel, equipment, entry fees and associated costs to remain a top contender. To keep moving toward those dreams, Reilly needs to continue competing across the country at the national-level, where there is the greatest opportunity for competition and growth as a racer. So, Reilly and his family are now humbly asking for your help.
When you meet Reilly you can see instantly that sparkle in his eye and wide, ear to ear grin the second BMX is mentioned. He can go on and on about it because he puts his entire heart into it. You won't find him boasting about his wins, or his trophies, or the growing list of local kids at tracks up and down the west coast who look up to him and want to be like like him already. Even with all of his accomplishments to date, Reilly remains one of the most humble, kind young racers in the sport. He is known for his respectful attitude on and off the track.
At age eleven, Reilly is already giving back to BMX in his own way, by offering help, coaching, clinics, and guidance to the younger up and coming racers who look to him as a role model. Reilly doesn't see himself that way, he thinks he is just another kid on the track, who just happens to go really, really fast.
Reilly and his family have returned to the Northwest, a decision made in part for Reilly's BMX career; they now call Medford, Oregon home. Medford also happens to be where his closest personal BMX hero, Adam Treadwell resides. This close proximity affords Reilly a unique opportunity to intensify his training with his long time supporter, coach and friend, who believes not just in Reilly, but in the sport and it's future.
If you'd like to be a part of Reilly's journey, please choose to donate here at this secure page, or contact his coach and family directly to set up a sponsorship program. Reilly's family is no longer able to help him succeed without the help of ongoing outside support, but this setback won't stop Reilly. He has already seen and overcame other challenges in his young life. He says he fully believes there are people out there who want to help him.
Reilly's 2014 season is off to an amazing start. Just last weekend he earned his best ever, National event finish- a first and a second place, and a strong fourth place, in his first National in the 11 year old expert class. He has two more Nationals coming up next month, one is just two weeks away. At this point, he will not be able to attend without financial help. So, Reilly is actively seeking sponsorship effective immediately. He has a full remaning 2014 schedule of national-level racing events around the country, and his goal is to qualify for his first overall national title at the Grand Nationals, held in the Midwest on Thanksgiving weekend.
In return for your commitment to him, Reilly would like to assure you that he will not give up, and he will not let you down. He chose long ago to be a fighter; in fact, before he was even born. It's a part of who he his. Reilly is committed in his words, "to keep proving them all wrong." He has only grown stronger in that commitment with each perceived setback, because he sees each as just another challenge- to stay focused, to put in the work, to choose to go harder; to never consider his love for his sport a sacrifice. Reilly believes in himself. He is determined to keep going as far and as fast as he can on his bike.
Thank you for taking the time to get to know Reilly and his BMX dreams.
For questions about sponsoring Reilly, please contact: [email redacted]
For a complete history on the sport of BMX racing, please follow this link.
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