Bringing motorsports' attention to opioid abuse

Kevin Holt doesn’t want any parent to ever have to go through what he’s been through.

Three years ago, Holt’s son, Jackson Piper, experimented with his grandfather’s pain medication after breaking his leg in a motocross accident.

Piper, who had never had a history with drugs or alcohol, died of an opioid overdose. He was 15.

“I want to help in whatever way I can to prevent one other parent from suffering,” said Holt, who is general manager of Peninsula Moto Group on Highway 16 in Bremerton. “This epidemic is big in our sport. I know it well. These aren’t just heroin addicts. It starts at the doctor’s office.”

Holt and Peninsula Moto Group have teamed up with the Seattle-based nonprofit Live Purple and the Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton for a fundraiser, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 24, at the Ridge to raise money and awareness for substance abuse prevention.

All Fired Up BBQ Catering from Port Orchard will provide the food, and Peninsula Moto Group will offer demonstrations on the Husqvarna FX 450 motorcycle. Entrance will cost $5, the proceeds of which will go toward Live Purple.

Live Purple’s mission is to bring awareness to substance abuse, focusing primarily on youth and prevention. The nonprofit’s work centers on athletics and physical activity, encouraging young people to stay active while remaining clean and sober.

“We started Live Purple earlier this year because we wanted to make a difference in the world,” said executive director Jason Valley. “This is the biggest epidemic in the United States. We truly believe we can make an impact by starting at the foundation, which is kids.”

At the fundraiser, people will also be able to ride their own motorcycles or dirt bikes on the Ridge’s race tracks for an additional $30 fee.

Chris Kinerk, motocross manager at the Ridge, wanted to partner with Live Purple and Peninsula Moto Group because of the effects he’s seen in his community from the opioid epidemic and the impact it’s had on his own life.

“Growing up in Olympia, I used to walk around everywhere, but now there’s not a chance I’d let my own children walk in those same places,” he said. “You drive downtown and you see it. It’s everywhere. It’s affected me. Unless you educate people, they don’t realize how prevalent it is.”

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic: Of the 20.5 million Americans over 12 that had a substance use disorder in 2015, 2 million had a disorder involving prescription pain relievers and 591,000 were addicted to heroin, according to the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

Opioids include heroin as well as prescription pain relievers like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl and others.

In the world of dirt bike riding and motocross sports, it’s not unusual to break bones on a regular basis, Holt said.

However, not everyone is aware of the dangers of prescription drugs to treat pain, he added.

“I’ve seen people who go from being gainfully employed with a broken collarbone to 18 months later becoming a homeless heroin junkie,” said Holt, who himself is sober.

“There are people like me in the world where one pill is too much and 1,000 is not enough.”

Live Purple will provide education on substance abuse at the fundraiser, while other vendors related to motocross sports will sell and give away materials.

The fundraiser is open to anyone involved in motocross, but also to anyone interested in learning more about the opioid epidemic, Kinerk said.

“We want to give these guys a platform to fight this in our community,” he said. “Dirt bike riding has its hazards. So does anything in life. The camaraderie and community in this sport is strong. But you don’t have to be in motocross to be part of this event. There will be something for everyone.”

The Ridge Motorsports Park is at 1060 West Eells Hill Road in Shelton. For more information about the Ridge, visit www.ridgemotorsportspark.com. To learn more about Live Purple, check out http://livepurple.org.

© 2017 KING-TV


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