Inspiration goes 2 ways
By Jeffrey Pieters
MILLVILLE — When rider Ryan Dungey won his races on Saturday at Spring Creek Motocross Park, he did so in front of a special friend and perhaps his biggest fan.
Jake Achterberg, a 17-year-old kidney transplant recipient from Peoria, Ill., met Dungey, a top rider and Belle Plaine, Minn., native, at last year’s race, during a months-long stay in Rochester for treatment at Mayo Clinic.
The 17-year-old Achterberg and 19-year-old Dungey struck up a regular correspondence via e-mail and text messages.
"Every Thursday, I text him and tell him good luck," Jake said.
And Dungey, whose grandmother recently died, wrote to Jake for advice on dealing with life’s big challenges outside of racing.
"He asked Jake, ‘how do you do this every day?’" said Sally Achterberg, Jake’s mother.
"I’m kind of impressed with Jake a little bit," Dungey said, standing with the Achterbergs on Saturday morning before the races.
"Honestly, we say the same thing about you," Sally Achterberg said.
The annual motocross event attracted more than 20,000 people and racers from across the country to the racetrack near Millville on Saturday.
Sally and Jake have been traveling to Rochester every few weeks for treatments. They’re here now, she said, because Jake’s kidney failed.
The dusty field at Spring Creek is a long way from the sick ward. Jake said his doctor, was fine with his patient being there.
"He says go out and do what you’ve got to do," Jake said. "If it makes you feel good, go out and do it.
"I feel great today."
B4: Motocross event
runs on volunteers
D1: Chad Reed leads series
D3: Dungey wins again