Blainestudent races dirt bikes for breast cancer

Published on Thu, Aug 17, 2006 by avk Kintner

Read More News

Blaine student races dirt bikes for breast cancer

By Javk Kintner

Blaine senior Colin Slyter’s senior project is all about money.
The dedicated motocross competitor has devised a fundraising project that raises money from supporters based on the number of laps he completes in practice and competition over the course of his senior year.

He calls it “Laps for Love” since all the money he’s raising goes to local breast cancer research carried on by the Cancer Center at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham. Four women in his family have been diagnosed with breast cancer including his mother Teri, a 10-year survivor. A year ago her mother and sister were diagnosed within two days of each other as well as an aunt by marriage.

It’s a chance, Slyter said, to return something for all the support his parents have given him as evidenced by a motorhome with an equipment trailer that sits in the driveway of their Normar Place home.

Slyter was seven when Teri was diagnosed, and three years later he began riding motocross, something his parents support enthusiastically.

“I was in my 40s when I got pregnant,” Teri said, “so I guess we’re a little older than you might expect.” Bob, now in his 70s and a retired salesman, says he’s happy to do whatever he can to support his son. “That’s what all this is for,” he smiled, “the motorhome we drive to the races, the trailer, the bikes. Keeps you young, believe me.”

Slyter has already raised a little over $1,700 so far riding his two Yamaha dirt bikes, a four-stroke YZ 250 F and a four-stroke YZ 450 F, a similar sized frame with a bigger engine. He races in several classes in a season that runs from April through October before moving indoors. Locally he runs at the Mt. Baker Motorcycle Club’s Hannegan Speedway at 4212 Hannegan Road north of Bellingham.
“This is a classic old clay flat track,” said Steve Harris, a member of the club’s board of directors, “that was built in the ’50s. It’s not exactly what you want for motocross because of all the clay that was brought in that gets as hard as pavement once it sets up.”

Harris and others regularly run heavy machinery over the winding and rolling mile and a half motocross track to keep the soil broken up and the track more or less free of ruts and the fist-sized rocks that are found in fields all over the county. “We’ll get 250 riders out here on Thursday nights,” Harris said.

This Sunday, August 20, is the Bellingham stop for the Washington State Championship series that will also visit tracks in Port Angeles, the Tri-Cities, Olympia and Washougal. Slyter will be riding in several C division races with both bikes, burning up to a gallon of specially blended high-octane leaded gasoline that costs as much as $14 per gallon. Speeds aren’t high but the jumps often are, sending riders soaring 60 feet or more, “but the trick is to stay on the ground, where you have power,” Slyter said, having once collided with another bike while both were 10 feet in the air.

He’s been hurt “three or four times” in each of the four seasons he’s raced, sometimes being taken by ambulance to the same hospital he’s now raising money for. St. Joseph Hospital’s cancer center statistics indicate that roughly 150 women a year are diagnosed locally with breast cancer, more than any other diagnosis except prostrate cancer in some years. Various kinds of studies are always under way.
To donate, checks should be made out to “breast cancer research” and sent to Slyter at 5937 Normar Place in Blaine. You may also donate per lap.

For that Slyter calculated that he rides somewhere between four and five thousands circuits in practice and in actual races through the year. For more information call the Slyters at 371-5877.