Holden Walker has a tough time sitting still.
Over the course of a half-hour, after-school chat at H.T. Thrift Elementary, the 10-year-old is up off a couch a few times; back and forth to the office once, and also spends a few minutes bouncing a large rubber exercise ball like a basketball.
Outside the classroom, he is one of Canada’s top BMX racers in his age group, he plays basketball, tennis, is interested in rock-climbing and even parkour – the “free running” exercise in which participants run, jump and climb over obstacles.
“He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie,” admitted his mom, Maire, who teaches kindergarten at H.T. Thrift.
“He’s an athlete – he never stops moving.”
And while an endless supply of energy is certainly not uncommon among 10-year-old boys, Holden is at least putting his to good use – on his bike especially.
Heading into the upcoming BMX Canada racing season – which begins this Mother’s Day weekend at Chilliwack’s Heritage Park – Holden is ranked No. 3 in Canada.
Down the road a few years, he’s eyeing the Olympics.
“I think I can get there,” said Holden, whose home track is in Langley. “If things keep going how they’re going.”
This past year of racing has posed numerous challenges, however. Financially, supporting Holden’s racing can be tough, Maire says. There are race fees to pay, bike repairs to make, and the travel is also costly – races are staged all over the province, and in order to keep his ranking, Holden needs to compete in as many as he can.
“It’s been a hard year, for sure,” she said. “That can surprise people, because I’m a teacher and have a good job, but it’s still tough, now that we’re a one-income family, to make it work.”
As well, Maire doesn’t drive, so they rely on public transit as much as they can. For longer BMX trips, they often get rides with family, friends and other racers.
At races, other riders have even lent Holden equipment – such as extra pedal clips – when his have broke.
She and Holden are grateful for all the support they’ve received.
“It’s a pretty cool community,” Maire said.
Holden, Maire notes, is quick to give back – he is an avid volunteer at his Langley BMX track and can often be found there helping the younger novice riders work their way around the course.
In an attempt to help offset the costs associated with racing, the Walkers have started an online GoFundMe donation page, which so far has raised more than $700 – including a $500 donation from the Kiwanis Club of White Rock/South Surrey; Kiwanis member Hilda Kohls is a lunchroom supervisor at H.T. Thrift, and helped set the wheels in motion for the donation.
Maire said the sacrifices are worth it when she sees how successful her son has been since he first learned to ride a bike at 2½ years old.
“No training wheels either, he just went,” she said.
Holden has been racing since he was six and, in addition to being talented, has also proven to be a tough guy to keep down.
In his second-ever race, he crashed – “I went right over the handlebars,” he said – and last year, he suffered two serious crashes within a span of six weeks. One came during a race in Pemberton, in which Holden broke his collarbone, dislocated his shoulder, and hyper-extended his neck.
“I’m a little bit taller now,” Holden joked about his neck injury.
Then, in Kelowna, after a successful race, Holden celebrated by taking his bike to the skateboard/bike park for some trick riding. However, he crashed on a landing and suffered some facial scratches and a concussion, which left him unable to compete the next day.
Rather than sulk, Holden volunteered to hand out ribbons and cheer on other riders.
Maire called it one of her “proudest moments as a mom.”
Holden said neither injury discouraged him from riding; even after the Pemberton injuries, he admitted to riding his bike around his White Rock home sooner than he was supposed to.
“These are things a mother probably doesn’t want to hear,” Maire laughed.
After this weekend’s races, Holden has his eyes on a national-level competition in Nanaimo.
To donate to Holden’s GoFundMe page, visit http://www.gofundme.com/m0xp2o