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Coping With Loss: The Amanda Sokalski Story

headshotLosing someone is never an easy feat. It changes who we are and the way we perceive things for the rest of our lives. But what about when we lose the person we are closest to due to the sport that we live for? On August 10, 2010 tragedy struck. I lost my older sister, my best friend, my role model. Ashlee Sokalski suffered severe injuries during a motocross accident at the famous Loretta Lynn’s Amateur National. She was knocked unconscious on the track and never woke up. She fought for her life for five long days at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN but unfortunately had too much damage to her body to recover.

She died peacefully on a Tuesday night after her crash on Thursday during her second moto. I still remember to this day the overwhelming feelings of what was going on. I was 17 at the time and I felt like I was living a nightmare only it wasn’t a dream. Looking back, I think about how far I’ve come since that day. When I lost Ashlee, my whole world turned upside down. There were days where I didn’t think the hurt would ever subside. It still hurts every day but I know that I have a guardian angel.

Me and Ashlee Regionals 2010[1]

Ashlee and Amanda in 2010

A few months after Ashlee passed my family started the non-profit organization, The Ashlee Sokalski Brraap Fund. We work to promote safety in riding and make tracks a safer place for riders. We have helped over 50 families financially that suffered from injuries and provided several of them with safety equipment. We are working to create awareness in riders and spectators alike to show them the potential dangers of motocross. There are several precautions that can be taken to reduce the amount of injuries.

After Ashlee passed away, I had a big decision to make. I had to decide whether or not to quit racing. At first, I thought I was going to hang up my boots. After what happened to my sister I hated motocross. I hate the dangers of racing and the thought of “what if.” Finally, I officially decided not to hang up my boots. Racing is in my blood. I was more motivated than ever after Ashlee passed away. Racing is what my older sister and I did together so continuing helped me to cope with the loss.

Baja 4-28[1]

Amanda used riding as a way to help her heal.

In 2010, I didn’t race very much, but in 2011 I started practicing a lot and doing some of the local races. I was also told that I should try out some of the Canadian Nationals. At first I was skeptical; however, when I looked up how far away Walton Raceway was from home; it was 3 hours and 16 minutes. After I found this out I knew it was meant to be. Little things like this let me know that Ashlee is still around. I would be lying if I said that I was never scared of what could happen, but I know that when I swing my leg over my bike I have a reason to be and a purpose for being there.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to make it through everything that a racer faces. Motocross is a very emotional sport, especially now. There are days that I think how different everything would be if Ashlee were still here, buy in the end I know that I would be racing, it’s where my heart is and what I am passionate for. Sometimes people tell me that I’m crazy. They ask me how I didn’t learn my lesson from my sister’s passing; I just look at them and ask them if they have ever ridden a bike or raced a moto. Most of them say no. It’s hard to explain what keeps you going after something like this happens, but it’s almost like you have more of a drive than anyone else.

Polka Dots 5-11[1]

Amanda hopes to try and qualify for this summer’s Parts Canada TransCan.

My family and the people I have met along this crazy journey have also had a huge influence on me. I have been told that I am an inspiration to many riders. This means more to me than I can even explain. I am so thankful for my family’s support and everyone that I have in my life. I hope that I can touch lives like Ashlee did. I want people to know that just because awful things may happen, we still have to continue living our lives day by day.

This year, I have been fortunate to be a part of the Motocross Ladies Team. I have been training hard and my main goal is to make it to Loretta Lynn’s. I made it through the area qualifier; I just have to make it through the regional. I want to represent Ashlee and I want to run number 16 in her honour.

The best advice I can give is to just remember that no matter what happens, there is a reason for it. We may never find out what that reason but God has a plan for all of us. We just have to have faith and keep fighting to reach our goals.

-Amanda Sokalski 317

GODSPEED 316

Me and Ashlee[1]

Ashlee and Amanda will be riding partners forever.

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