Destry Abbott Hospitalized

Destry Abbott faces the longest race of his life

Destry Abbott and family
From left in a 2011 photo: Cooper, Destry, Charlotte and Kelsey Abbott are not alone as they begin the long battle in the fight against leukemia that Destry was diagnosed with earlier this week.Photo by Mark Kariya

It should’ve been just another race, Destry Abbott knew something was wrong.

There in Idaho for the Orofino Logger-cross (an EnduroCross-style race), he put in a couple practice laps but found himself in pain and out of breath despite not crashing. So he opted to park it, cheer on his son Cooper, then fly home on Sunday.

Things didn’t improve for the 40-something five-time AMA Hare & Hound National Champion-turned-EnduroCross racer after getting back to Phoenix so he went straight from the airport straight to the hospital that night.

“He knew something was wrong because his leg was hurting,” daughter Kelsey Abbott shared. “He was like, ‘Well, I didn’t crash; I didn’t do anything.’ He said it was pretty gnarly pain so he’s glad he [went straight to the hospital]; otherwise, he’d still have no clue.”

The first hospital didn’t accept Destry’s insurance so they transferred him to another hospital that did. As Kelsey put it, “They had to transport him to this hospital (Banner Thunderbird Hospital in Glendale, Arizona) which was actually a blessing because this hospital is amazing and more expert in what we’re going through.”

After a battery of tests over the next two days, the doctors pinned down the cause of Destry’s extreme discomfort: leukemia. Specifically, acute lymphocyctic leukemia (ALL).

There are more than a dozen types of leukemia as well as various sub-categories, with ALL most prevalent in those under age 15 or over 45. While the Abbotts don’t want to speculate, Kelsey said, “We’re happy because he was kind of preparing for the worst so he’s a little more positive right now.

“But he’s still got a long road ahead of him.”

That road will take him into chemotherapy tomorrow (Wednesday, May 19) for the first of many treatments and a very different life than anyone envisioned just last week.

“His whole life just changed because he’s so healthy,” Kelsey pointed out. That, of course, is the result of his racing lifestyle, though the owner/creator of the DA8 Training philosophy will now have to curtail his work at the facility.

“He’ll be in the hospital for 14 days then he’ll go home for 10 and come back for 14 for five months straight.”

It’s highly unlikely that Destry will be able to work or race during the times he’s at home, of course, and that’s going to swallow a lot of his savings.

That, however, is where you—the reader, his many fans and friends—can help. The Abbotts have set up a GoFundMe account (https://www.gofundme.com/24pwufw) to accept donations immediately. And if you’re in the SoCal area next month, former Dirt Rider Editor Ken Faught is coordinating a fundraiser at the Pole Position Raceway indoor electric karting center (1594 E. Bentley Dr., Corona, CA 92879). Besides kart racing, there will be both silent and live auctions, bike displays, food trucks and lots of other attractions. Being at the epicenter of the industry, you can also bet that many moto celebrities will attend the festivities on June 21 from 5:00 to 10:00 P.M.

While no one likes extended hospital stays, Kelsey noted there’s one thing that Destry enjoys: “He gets called young here a lot, which he’s really happy about. He’s like, ‘I’ve never been called young!’ He’s pumped about that.”

To help Destry Abbott and family with medical expenses, you can donate to his fund at https://www.gofundme.com/24pwufw.