Racing community steps up to help London member hospitalized after bike race
More than $15k raised to help Mike Grass, father of 2, who was seriously injured competing Saturday
A racing community in Southern Ontario is banding together to raise money for one of its members after he was seriously injured and taken to hospital after competing in a race on Saturday.
Mike Grass, a passionate racer and father of two, was competing in the Canadian Superbike Championship (CSBK) series at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont., on Saturday, when he was seriously injured and airlifted to a trauma centre in Toronto.
Mariusz Chmielewski, a close friend of Grass and organizer of the GoFundMe campaign, said he is doing what he can to support his friend and his family through this time.
Grass and Chmielewski are part of the Southern Ontario Association of Racing (SOAR), a community of up to 200 competitors.
"It's just a giant family, anytime anybody needs something, the family steps up and helps," he said. "We call ourselves the SOAR family."
The GoFundMe page, started by Chmielewski to help cover costs during what's expected to be a long recovery, has already raised more than $15,000 in donations forthe Grass family, as of Thursday.
"As soon as we heard that Mike was hurt, we knew that there was going to be a recovery time. We knew that he had swelling of the brain, had a brain bleed, and that there was going to be a recovery time afterwards, which meant downtime for him without working and his wife wasn't going to be working,"
"So while it was still fresh, we thought it would be a good idea to get as many people to contribute as we could just to help him along the line for the next few months with any kind of financial help they need."
Grass was coming into Turn 2 during the race when he lost traction of the front tire and slid into the hay bales that were piled up along the wall, Chmielewski said. It looked like Grass hit three or four hay bales before his bike stopped sliding.
When paramedics arrived, Grass was unconscious but still breathing.
A 'lovable guy'
Chmielewski said he met Grass on the racetrack, more than five years ago.
"We became really good friends after that and he's just he's a lovable guy. You can't not like Mike," he said.
Grass was unconscious in hospital until Wednesday, when he opened his eyes and moved his hand, Chmielewski said.
"I'm happy to share that we witnessed some uplifting progress today. Mike opened his eyes for the first time since Saturday," Grass' wife Rachael Speers wrote in a post on Wednesday on the SOAR Facebook page. "Dr's are optimistic that this shows brain function and are hoping that they will be able to attempt to have him removed from the ventilator. The next step will be moving out of the critical care unit and into the intensive care unit. We feel like this is a huge step in progression."
"I am overwhelmed, truly humbled and grateful for the outpouring of love and support for our family. I truly feel as if have an army of people rooting for us," Speers wrote.