Photos: Jason Eichhorst
On Sunday, Oct. 5, the most unlikely thing happened to Salt Lake City local, Mike Aitken. Aitken over-rotated a 360 degree while filming on the east coast. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition with severe head trauma, and clinically stated in a coma. He remained in the Bethlehem, Penn. hospital for two-and-a-half weeks before being flown air-med back to SLC where he remained in the IMC trauma unit for three more weeks. Back in Utah, doctors were amazed at Aitken’s progression. From his first few waking hours when he was slightly conscious, doctors told him that he may never walk again. Aitken’s always been one to prove people wrong, consistently hurdling the largest challenges. He walked the next day with the aid of hospital staff and a walker. He left the hospital on his own two feet with no help on his release date. Aitken is now back at home getting settled in, walking on his own, talking, regaining balance and completing day-to-day tasks, but he still has a long road ahead of him. He’s by no means “better.” Movement is limited on his right side and he will need extensive speech and outpatient therapy for months to come. He also lacks health insurance due to his profession being “too high risk.” His injury seems illusory, as Aitken’s style and persona are the most imitated in BMX. It’s still tough to register that this type of injury could have happened to him. He won the AST Dew Tour stop in SLC after taking almost four months off to rehabilitate a shoulder injury from earlier this year. Winning that event is a nearly impossible feat with that much time away from a bike, but you can leave it up to Aitken to handle that.
To benefit Aitken, his wife Trista and his two-year-old son, Owen, 5050bmx teamed up with a large group of sponsors to hold a benefit BMX jam at Tanner Park on the Oct. 25. A raffle was held with over $3,000 in prizes, including a brand new Fender guitar, a FIT Bike Co. signature Mike Aitken frame, a vintage complete Hutch PRO (probably worth more than most cars), a brand new complete 2008 Verde bike and donations from countless other sponsors. In true spirit of the season, locals dressed up Tanner Park with Halloween decorations. Pumpkins lined the turns, skeletons hung from trees, zombies crawled out of the ground and gargoyles guarded the jumps. Over 300 people attended. Riders, friends, families, random dog walkers and hikers donated for the cause to help a fallen rider, everybody’s friend and all around good guy. Funds were gathered and accounted for at the day’s end, bringing the total to more than $5,000 for Aitken and his family. Special thanks to Eddie Buckley from 5050, Steve Spencer from Rad Canyon BMX, and thanks to Cameron Wood and Greg Ingersoll for the hard work at the park.
Some of the riders rode in full costume, and how was beyond me. Tim Thompson dressed up as Rainbow Bright complemented by a magical wand, Elf Walters wore a Freddy Krueger mask all day and Ingersoll dressed up his bike in straw while he rode dressed as a scarecrow. He was definitely the best dressed. Spirits were high, and everyone supported the cause to the fullest. The BMX family is a close group in SLC. Most riders consider friends as family, just as their own and it shows. Thanks to all that supported, rode, donated, watched, lurked and visited. Also a huge thanks to all the sponsors that sent and brought gear to raffle off! If you were unable to attend the event and would like to donate to Aitken’s fund to show support please visit: mikeaitken.com or 5050bmx.com and please, donate generously.
Photos: Jason Eichhorst