Biking for the children!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 13, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Victor Stanger has been suffering heart attacks on an almost weekly basis for years. Remarkably, however, he still doesn’t need a pacemaker.

&uot;A ‘heart attack’ is when you do a handstand on your bike about 35 feet above the ground,&uot; explains Stanger, a motocross rider since the age of 11. &uot;It’s not really scary, because I’ve been doing it for so long. The jumping’s pretty basic, and the tricks just come along with it.&uot;

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Over the weekend, any local resident with an interest in recreational biking can check out the skills of Stanger and several of his ramp colleagues at the Chesapeake City Park when they put on a display at a Special Olympics benefit event. Children 12-and-under will be admitted free.

Stangler and Travis Willis hope that several Kilby Shores Elementary School students will be among the attendees. On Friday afternoon, the two visited the school to explain the importance of education and the fun of biking.

&uot;How many of you like extreme sports?&uot; Willis asked a gym full of hundreds of youths. &uot;How many of you have a skateboard? A bicycle?&uot;

With each query, nearly every hand went up. Then Willis hit them with one more: &uot;How many of you know how to ride a motorcycle?&uot; Far fewer hands headed skyward.

&uot;One day,&uot; Willis said, &uot;you could make money riding bikes. But you have to pay attention in school, and do your classwork and homework, or your mom and dad won’t let you ride. I have a nine-year-old daughter, and if she doesn’t get good grades, she doesn’t ride.

&uot;I’m 26, and Victor is only 18,&uot; Willis told the students. &uot;But no matter how old you are, you can still learn. Whatever you want to do, stick with it. Follow your dreams, and do whatever you want to do. Education is the most important thing. There may be some days where you don’t want to do your homework, but you have to. Can I get everyone to scream ‘Yes!’?&uot;

The class responded with a thunderous accordance. &uot;That’s louder than some crowds I’ve worked in front of!&uot; Willis said.

Though Friday’s early rain prevented the two from performing a riding demonstration for the Kilby Shores students, Willis performed a few stunts at an autograph session at Motorcycle World at 1572 Holland Road later on in the day.

&uot;If you want to ride a motorcycle someday,&uot; he told the visiting youths, &uot;promise you’ll start with bikes first!&uot;