FARMINGTON — When one of its own is down, an entire motocross community stands together as family.
Right now, those families are all throwing their collective arms around 12-year-old Sammy Cordova, who suffered life-threatening injuries after a wreck during a motocross race at Aztec Motocross Track on Nov. 9. He is currently in critical condition in the pediatric unit of the University of New Mexico Hospital's intensive care unit in Albuquerque.
Cordova, who has raced motorbikes for half of his life, is ranked first in two racing classes in his age group and 85cc engine type.
While negotiating a jump on the motocross track earlier this month, the Mesa View Middle School seventh grader sustained severe head trauma, a punctured lung, a broken pelvis, internal bleeding, broken ribs, a compound fracture of his arm and a broken wrist. He was airlifted from the track to San Juan Regional Medical Center and then to Albuquerque, where he remains on life support.
"He had fallen during the first race that morning, but he got up, (his) wrist hurt a little bit, bloody lip, but we've watched all the kids go through that," said Bloomfield High School teacher Varissa DeHoyos, a friend of the Cordova family. "It is dangerous, but we know the risks going in. There's always broken bones, but not fighting for your life. Our kids wear athletic protective equipment."
Varissa DeHoyos' son, Derek, is a sixth grader at Naaba Ani Elementary School in Bloomfield. He was in the same race as Cordova when the wreck happened.
"I was three seconds behind Sammy when he went down," Derek DeHoyos said. "I was thinking, 'It'll be OK, man. Just hang in there. Just fight.'"
Derek DeHoyos, who started racing two years ago, has a list of motocross injuries, including a broken nose, four concussions and torn menisci in his knees. But despite the pain, he has no plans to quit.
The DeHoyoses will travel to Albuquerque to deliver cards for Cordova made by his classmates at Mesa View. While Cordova faces a long road to recovery, the motocross community is working to help the Cordova family cover medical costs.
Kristen Goldman, a family friend and a former motocross racer, set up a Facebook page for the family. Within two days, it garnered more than 2,500 likes. The page, Pray for Sammy Cordova, had more than 2,700 likes as of Saturday evening.
Golman also helped open a bank account for donations and organized a benefit concert later this month.
"Sammy's like a little brother to me," she said. "He's so smart and such a phenomenal racer and great kid."
Goldman is no stranger to injuries, a common link among riders in the motocross community. At age 15, she broke her back and neck and shattered her ankle after a crash in a race at McGee Park. She underwent four reconstructive surgeries and was told she might not ever walk again. But with the help and persistence of her surgeon, she is walking today. Inspired by her medical treatment and experience, she is studying to be an orthopedic surgeon at Grand Canyon College in Arizona.
"(Races) are 40 minutes of white-knuckle horribleness -- like, why can't you bowl, color, swim or something?" said Varissa DeHoyos. "But when your kid loves it this much, it changes them and pushes them to do better."
Derek DeHoyos holds out hope for his friend as he heads to Alamogordo to compete in a motocross race there this weekend.
"When you're on two wheels it's like nothing else in the whole world," he said. "I'll be thinking about Sammy and race for him, and keep praying."
To help the Cordova family defray medical costs, there will be a benefit concert featuring motocross rapper Bmayzee. Concert is 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 23, at Top Deck, 515 E. Main St., Farmington. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online.
For more information, call Kristen Goldman at 970-903-3996 or Varissa Dehoyos at 505-360-8118.