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In memory of Kristopher

On Aug. 3, Kart Racing for Heroes, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, sponsored a race at the SBR Motorsports Park in Calhan, Colo., to recognize firefighters and local military personnel for their service to community and country. Teams comprised of multiple branches of the military as well as firefighters from two local departments participated in the event. The man behind the organization is Craig Mansfield. His son, Kristopher, was killed by a drunk driver in Denver after he returned home from a tour in Iraq. To honor his memory, Mansfield started Kart Racing for Heroes because he and his son used to race karts, and the sport relieves stress. ìI was looking at the suicide rates (in the military), and I thought, you know, this is crazy,î he said. ìI can put them in a go-kart and show them how to relieve stress without drugs or alcohol.îMansfield also initiated an award in his sonís name ñ SrA Kristopher Mansfield Peak One Award ñ that is presented annually to airmen at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., who demonstrate leadership, citizenship and safety. This yearís award winner and part of the go-kart team that raced Aug. 3 is Carlos Gomez, who is also a member of Airmen Against Drunk Driving. As part of his involvement with the AADD, Gomez worked on an experiment to show people how quickly they can get to a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content, without realizing it. The AADD also offers rides to military members who have had too much to drink. Last year, they provided 274 rides to people who otherwise might have driven under the influence of alcohol. Another driver at the race, also a member of the military; who asked to remain anonymous, said he benefited directly from the Mansfield program. A few years ago, he met Mansfield in Grand Junction, Colo., and Mansfield told him about the racing program. He said he was deployed as a medic, and came home with issues. ìI didn’t know how to deal with that. I didn’t know how to relax,î he said. He started racing and now has his own karts; his family participates, too. ìI do feel like it turned my life around,î he said. ìI didn’t have a way to relieve stress. It’s benefited my career and my family by straightening me out ñ you know?îThe Aug. 3 race is the first time a Kart Racing for Heroes event has been held outside of Denver or Grand Junction. Mansfield said he called the SBR Motorsports Park earlier this year and asked their help in sponsoring an event.Mansfield said he plans to expand the program to more tracks to reach more service members. Kart Racing for Heroes is supported through donations and fundraisers. Mansfield said the opportunity to race is open to anyone who might benefit from racing the karts. All expenses are covered by the organization.ìIf you’ve got someone in the military that you’re worried about, send them here,î Mansfield said.Kart Racing for Heroes’ website is

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