There isn’t much that Ryland Bricker likes more than riding BMX.
If given the choice, the 10-year-old Upper Township native would gladly head down to the Egg Harbor Township BMX track and ride for hours.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Bricker said.
Bricker may have found one thing, however, that he likes even more than flying around the track: fundraising to help others.
Bricker and EHT BMX are currently participating in the USA BMX Race For Life event to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a national fundraiser with more than 7,000 participants from more than 300 tracks around the country. This is Bricker’s fourth year participating in the event, and he has been the top fundraiser in the country each year.
“I want to help try to find a cure for cancer no matter what,” Bricker said. “I want to try to find a cure for cancer so that everybody can live the same life.”
The numbers are staggering.
In 2018, Bricker raised $7,066 and finished in first place nationally by a margin of just $42. He raised $21,250 in 2019 and $28,100 last year. As of Friday morning, Bricker already had raised $50,052 this year to put him over $100,000 raised in his four years. He is the top fundraiser nationally with EHT BMX also being the top track in the country.
“It’s not as much about the amount of money,” Bricker said. “It’s the fact of what I’m doing (to help). I’m really proud of myself.”
Bricker’s dad, Nick, has volunteered for numerous charities and foundations and is well versed in the world of fundraising. Nick is a friend of local surfing legend Dean Randazzo and was a founding member of the Dean Randazzo Cancer Foundation. Randazzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2001.
Ryland would accompany his dad to various fundraisers and events around the region over the years.
“I wanted (Ryland) to learn at an early age that it’s important to give back and help others when you can and he has,” Nick Bricker said. “It’s been a great lesson, and it’s something that now we do as a team, a father and son team, and it’s incredible.
“We did it together as a father and son, and we did it through BMX, a sport that he loves and is passionate about.”
The Brickers have raised money in various ways.
They accepted countless donations from businesses and individuals around South Jersey and did everything from coin drops to selling T-shirts to raise funds.
“A lot of local business owners have been very generous, and the community has been very supportive,” Nick Bricker said.
Ryland remembers going to fundraising events and always wanted to be a part of it. When he saw that EHT BMX participated in the Race For Life, he jumped at the chance to help out.
“When I saw my dad doing it, I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” Ryland said. “I think that’s what really got me into trying to do it. I said when I grew up I wanted to do that.”
Ryland is a fifth grade student at Upper Township Elementary School. He knows better than anyone that people of all ages can make a big difference. So what advice would he give to a young person trying to get involved?
“If you want to do something, you just have to put your mind to it,” he said. “Don’t stop working and you can reach it no matter what. You just have to put your mind to it and keep working at it every day.”
The top fundraiser in the country gets a prize package that includes a travel stipend, free hotel stay and entry to USA BMX Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from Nov. 26-28 as well as entry fees to a USA BMX race and a new BMX bike.