As a mom, wife, full-time student, teacher, team manager, and fundraiser, I worked very hard to make sure things were in order each week so my family could get to the track on the weekends. I created and sent sponsor packets to help fund my daughter Morgan’s flat track racing hopes and dreams and then, every Friday, we would hop in the race van, traveling anywhere between three and 10 hours to a track for competition. We weathered the rain, cold, and heat, bikes breaking down, blown motors, changing gearing and tires, and setting up pits. We cheered, cussed, and celebrated just to hop back in the van and drive home exhausted on Sunday with very little money in our pockets to do it all over again the following week.
When I look back on it today, we had the time of our lives, met forever friends, and I honestly don’t regret one minute of the time we spent – my only regret is that we allowed ourselves to be stressed out about winning when we should have been having fun.
In 2016, we had a big year: Morgan turned 17 and had some great support and sponsors behind her. In July, after finishing in the top 5 at amateur nationals, she decided to apply for her professional license. We knew the season was about to end and there would only be a few chances left to race, but we wanted to get our feet wet and bring more attention to Morgan before the 2017 competition began. The truth was, as a family we were going to have a hard time financially completing a full schedule without major support.
We were thrilled when Morgan made her first main event in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she became the first-ever female to make the first main event she attempted. We were ecstatic! The next race she attempted was in New York where she made the main event again! She was truly winning the hearts and minds of the people around her with her behavior on and off the track.
In September of that year, our world was rocked when two competitors and friends lost their lives at the season finale – both were Morgan’s age, and one was a female racer she had been competing with since the age of 9. I’ll never forget the sick feeling I had when I heard the news, and the sadness that existed in our house over the next several weeks – we discussed the dangers of the sport and if it was a good idea to continue but I don’t think any of us truly considered it. I remember reading a Facebook post that Morgan made shortly after their accidents where she vowed to continue racing for Charlotte and Kyle because that’s “what they would want me to do” – and she was right I’m sure.
However, on this day, November 12, 2016—five years ago today–our family’s world was turned upside down. After a 14-hour drive to Savannah, Georgia on Thursday into the wee hours of Friday, Morgan had an amazing practice session where the set up was on point and she was fast. We knew people were watching and had already scheduled a meeting the following week for factory support the next season – big things were coming! We were finally going to be relieved of some of the financial pressure we had been feeling for 10 years.
I remember sitting in the stands on Saturday waiting for her race to come up. They were having some issues getting the program to run smoothly and I said to the person sitting next to me, “We are never going to get out of here in time to drive home for work Monday.”
Shortly after, Morgan’s race finally came to the line. She did not get the best start and had lots of ground to make up. But tragedy struck quickly.
Going in to turn 1 on lap 3 at 95 mph, Morgan’s front tire hit the back tire of another competitor and sent her flying off the bike. I immediately thought she was dead. I ran down the stairs and, after what seemed like a marathon sprint, I made it to her – she was knocked out and snoring like a bear – the worst sound I had ever heard.
We made it to the hospital in the ambulance and they put her in the ICU. They cut off her boots and the leathers we worked so hard to pay for just eight months before. I carried them into the waiting room in a plastic bag, looked my husband in the eye, and said, “If we make it out of this, our racing days are over – I don’t know why but I never thought this would happen to us.”
Well, Morgan did make it out, but it wasn’t easy. Over the next two years, she worked at recovery like it was a full-time job. She spent the first 30 days in in-patient rehabilitation where she learned to walk again, and the next 90 days living in an RV at a friend’s track where we could hike, bike, walk, do yoga, and find anything to keep her moving and interested in getting better.
Fast forward to today: Morgan is a fully recovered traumatic brain injury and stroke survivor. She has suited up and raced her bike again but decided it’s not worth the time or mental toll it takes on the entire family to recover from another injury like the one she experienced. She recently graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in Occupational Therapy with one main goal in her mind: to give back to others like those who helped her recover.
Now, in November 2021, we are thrilled to share that Morgan’s Place—a dream of Morgan’s for years—is an official 501c3 non-profit. Our entire family is working hard to raise money to purchase a campground where we will take in injured athletes and their families and provide them with the same type of activities we participated in to increase their chances of recovery and living a full life.
This past weekend, I attended a motocross race where I was passing out cards to everyone in attendance to share information about Morgan’s Place and the services we intend to offer. I won’t forget the reaction of one mom in particular; she was me five years ago. I felt like she was thinking, “Thanks for the information but, that’ll never happen to us.” I hope and pray that no other family has to go through what we did, but please know the Monroe family and the staff of Morgan’s Place will be here if you ever need us.
For more information on our plans or to donate, please click here.