All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for December 2003

Local BMX track has roots in dual life-changing events

November 30, 2003
J. David Barron
Durango Herald

Danny Myers had a good life. Great wife. "Really cool business." Lots of friends. Trusted business associates.

Life was a real garden, and the Hermosa couple was digging it.

Then came the news that he had inoperable cancer and was going to die. Turned out that was a misdiagnosis, but a month later, when the correct diagnosis was dispensed, it wasn't much better. Myers had multiple sclerosis.

Sandy, his wife, followed with more life-altering news: They were going to be parents.

All the news evoked the gamut of emotions.

Myers used to ride motocross motorcycles on dirt tracks. All he could think about was what he was going to miss sharing with his new child.

"When I got pregnant with Dakota, and Danny found out he had MS at the same time," Sandy said, "he said, I sure hope I can at least live long enough to teach my kid to ride a bike.'"

He has. Dakota, now a budding blue jeans model at 11, burst onto the bike-riding scene when he took the 25th Iron Horse Bicycle Classic at age 4. It was Dakota's first race. And a star was born.

So was the genesis of what some say is the best track of its kind in Colorado: Durango BMX Track.

"I started taking him to those youth mountain bike races," Myers said, "then Sandy took him to Aztec (BMX track) and when I showed up, Dakota had already run about 30 laps, and he had this huge grin on his face. He said, This is so much cooler than mountain biking.'"

BMX has been a family affair ever since.

"We all got into BMX for Dakota," Myers said.

"We all" includes not only Danny, Sandy and Dakota, but also little brother Sage, who came along nearly three years later.

Dakota's success is well-chronicled. His room is a veritable shrine to BMX, boasting more than 200 trophies plus 100 or so ribbons and plaques. Posters and photographs occupy what wall space is left.

"There's not any more room for me to build him another shelf," Myers said.

Sage, now 9, has nearly matched Dakota's success, boasting two state championships to big brother's three. His room, too, brims with ribbons and trophies.

All that success came at a steep price in gasoline and time spent on the two-hour round trips to Aztec. As Sage glumly recalled, "It was kind of boring."

Danny and Sandy Myers decided to see about getting a track for Durango.

"I recognized it as a family thing, like when I was growing up and my parents were in a motorcycle club about when I was Dakota's age, and I remembered what a cool family thing it was," Myers said. "I couldn't understand why Durango, being the mountain bike capital of the world, didn't have something like this for kids.

"I couldn't recognize there was a need for this until I had my own kid," Myers said. "So I went to the City Council for about five years, and I couldn't understand why it took so long for them to recognize it, too. But when we finally signed the lease on the land from the city is about the time my drywall business went down and my health started to worsen.

"So we formed a nonprofit organization and the track really did start filling that spot in my life that was lost from my business. I was able to focus on what I had instead of what I didn't have."

"Basically," Sandy said, "we were building that track for the other kids, because once we finally got that lease, Dakota and Sage's interest started to wane. Now they've become kind of ambassadors, but we never really wanted it to be about us.

"We built it for everybody else."

The track, behind the Big 5 Sporting Goods store on U.S. 550/160 south, was constructed entirely with donations. Over 600 feet of fences, 4,000 cubic tons of dirt, all the trucks to deliver the dirt, each of the buildings, the starting gate, the bleachers "everything" was donated.

"This town just blew me away," Myers said with a wag of his head. "All these people I went to just overwhelmed me with their generosity.

"Now," he added, "it's bigger than anything I would have dreamed it would be."

He spoke a couple of weeks ago, before the track was vandalized to the point where it will have to be completely rebuilt. Someone thought it would be fun to four-wheel on the track right after a hard rain.

"It's ruined," Myers said Nov. 15. "I don't know what we'll do now."

Dakota does. He believes in his dad, the man who taught him and Sage that there's no such thing as the word "can't." Dakota recently wrote a letter nominating his father for a community Volunteer of the Year award, saying that his father was his hero. Dakota and Sage believe their parents will find a way.

Their parents aren't so confident.

"When the track was being built is when we found out that he had MS plaque on his brain stem," said Mrs. Myers. "Fatigue is a real big issue these days. Whenever he gets the fever and his body heats up, it exacerbates his MS symptoms."

For three or four days recently he was not able to walk or feed himself.

"And it's getting worse," she said.

While Myers' health deteriorates, other lives are getting better because of his vision for the Durango BMX track. Among them are Durango resident Clint Allen and his son, Whit.

"It's absolutely been a positive factor in my son and I having a good relationship again," Allen said. "No doubt about it.

"Danny and Sandy have bent over backward on that track, and I can't thank them enough for what they've done," Allen said. "Whit and I are a lot closer because we have something to relate to, and it's because of that track."

Dr. Field Blevins, a Durango orthopedic surgeon who has his own BMX prodigy in 5-year-old son Christopher, said the track has become a sort of family gathering place.

"We've made a lot of friends with other families through the track," Blevins said. "It's a community there. It's a good place for the kids to go and have fun. It's healthy, and a lot of that is because of Danny and Sandy."

Copyright © 2003, Durango Herald