For many people who go to Las Vegas for their birthday, they look forward to getting there. For one SIU alumnus, though, the best part was riding out.
Doug Daugherty, of Makanda, Carbondale fireman Dallas Mayer and his son Levi Mayer, an American Motorcross Association racer, competed Friday in the General Tire Vegas to Reno Race hosted by the Best in the Desert Racing Association.
Under the name Camp D Adventures, the three men took to their motorcycles and rode 550 miles across Nevada, where they finished eighth in their division and 112th overall.
They had 24 hours to complete the race, which included 15 pit stops. Competitors used this time to refuel and rehydrate.
Daugherty and the Mayers had to build up their endurance to withstand the desert. For Daugherty, his routine of running and lifting weights not only helped him build up for the race, but it also helped him lose 50 pounds.
“I can run 20 miles no problem now,” he said.
Daugherty said he draws inspiration from his time working with kids. He said they motivated him to get healthier.
“They saved my life,” he said. “I just want to give back to them.”
Daugherty said his interest in working with kids started when he noticed a lack of male presence in special education. He said he wanted to do something about it, so he decided to get involved.
He graduated from SIUC in 2007 with a degree in special education after founding the southern Illinois based Camp D, his team’s namesake.
Daugherty said he started the camp with the focus that children should be able to attend a camp that allows them to leave the house and learn by gaining new experiences. He said he wanted the option to be open to all children, no matter their financial status.
“All kids should be able to go to sleepover summer camps,” he said. “I think it’s important to bring down the walls.”
One of Camp D’s major outreaches is to work with kids from troubled backgrounds. Daugherty said he wants to inspire campers to be determined to set goals for themselves and to achieve them.
When he turned 40, Daugherty told campers he was going to get in shape and complete a motorcycle race. It took his teammates and him 14 hours to complete the 550-mile voyage through the desert, but it was a goal that was 10 years in the making.
Trenton Turner, a camp-goer who made the trip to see it for himself, said it was a great experience to see Daugherty reach his goal.
“It’s inspired me to get better at things,” he said.
Daugherty’s wife Wendy Daugherty, who also made the trip and rode in the van with the pit crew, said she was very proud of what he accomplished.
“It took a lot of work and preparation,” she said. “It was quite an adventure.”
Daugherty said he has some proud memories to take back to the campers, and this race on his 50th birthday was a great way to give the children he works with a push in the right direction.
For his 60th birthday, though, Daugherty said he wants to set a different kind of goal.
“I think I want to run with the bulls in Spain,” he said.