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On Sunday December 30, BMX website The Come Up and DC Shoes are hosting a Brett Banasiewicz Benefit Jam from 6 p.m. until midnight at Rye Airfield in Rye, New Hampshire. The event, packed with a lineup of dozens of top pro riders, is a fundraiser for the Athlete Recovery Fund with proceeds directly supporting Banasiewicz, a rider who sustained traumatic brain injuries in a crash in August during the LXVI BMX Invitational presented by Vans in Virginia Beach, Va.
"Brett's been improving a lot, but he still has a ways to go," Aaron Cooke, executive director of the Athlete Recovery Fund, told ESPN.com. "He's working on his mobility, strength, and balance, and just being able to get around on his own, leave the wheelchair behind, and work his way back to getting on a bike." (Earlier this week, a video was posted featuring Banasiewicz pedaling a BMX bike for the first time since his crash.)
Alfredo Mancuso, one of Banasiewicz' DC Shoes BMX teammates and the chief financial officer/chief information officer for The Come Up, says it was important to him bring the BMX community together over the holidays with Banasiewicz in mind.
"We wanted to do something for Brett to not only show support but also to help chip in with the medical bills and rehabilitation therapy and all the debt he's about to be in," Mancuso told ESPN.com. "When he woke up from his coma he basically had to re-learn how to do everything, but he's come a long way and Brett has a lot of friends. Once word got out that we were doing this event it sort of turned into this huge BMX community gathering on pretty short notice and it's pretty cool to see all these riders and brands, so many awesome people, coming together. It's going to be an awesome time, and there's actually a chance that Brett is going to be there himself if we can get all the details sorted out."
Mancuso will be riding at the event and says the Jam will also feature Banasiewicz's DC Shoes BMX teammates Kelly Bolton, Stevie Churchill, Mike Clark, Edwin De La Rosa, Chris Doyle, Ryan Jordan, Craig Mast, and Jeremiah Smith, as well as dozens of top pros including Van Homan, Ryan Guettler, and Jamie Bestwick. Tickets to watch the event are $10; for $20 attendees can ride in the jam with the pros.
Cooke says events like this are what have kept the ARF afloat and allowed the non-profit organization to help so many injured athletes in recent years.
"It's super critical to keep reminding people about the work we do and how the Athlete Recovery Fund can help in these worst-case scenarios, and events like this are awesome for that reason," Cooke says. "A lot of riders don't realize everything we do until they need our help, but we survive and thrive off of donations from the public, from various action sports brands and event organizers, and from the riders themselves. So it's a full-circle kind of thing, and it's awesome to see The Come Up, DC Shoes, and so many great companies and riders coming out in support of Brett and of the work we do."
In addition to direct work helping injured athletes and their families with recovery and rehabilitation costs, the ARF has been working with sport organizers and lobbying the action sports industry to improve safety measures. Earlier this month the ARF announced new rule changes, effective in 2013, for the X Games, Dew Tour, and the ASA Action Sports World Tour requiring the use of Consumer Product Safety Commission certified helmets in BMX competition. Banasiewicz was wearing a skateboard helmet not certified for bicycle use when he was injured, according to Cooke.