SAN DIEGO -- GEICO Honda Supercross rider Blake Wharton will be taking his sport's upcoming Military Appreciation Day in a special direction by personally hosting a group of children who have lost a parent serving overseas in the U.S. military.
Wharton, a rider in the team's 250SX East Region, has partnered with Guide On to create a unique day for 15 children, who will join Wharton in the GEICO Honda pits on Feb. 8 during the Monster Energy Supercross race at Qualcomm Stadium.
Based in San Diego, Guide On helps children who have lost a military parent by providing leadership and skills training while teaming them with peers who have shared similar experiences. Wharton is friends with two members of Guide On, the father and son team of Bob and Bobby Bolt.
"It gets pretty crazy in the middle of a Supercross season," Wharton said. "Everything we do focuses on trying to win races and getting in position to win the championship; that's what we do. But it's also important to take a little time to give back to the community, and when I see something that's a good fit, and this is a good fit, I jump at the chance.
"This is something that's very close to my heart. If we can step out for a moment and make a kid's day, a kid that's been through something pretty bad, then I think it's the right thing to do. I want to do everything I can for these kids."
Wharton has the opportunity to host these guests because he is not racing in 250SX West Region. The 250SX East Region begins Feb. 15 in Arlington, Texas.
The children he's treating to a day at the races are of various ages, with most under 10, though there are some who are 15 and 16 years old. Wharton will provide tickets to the race as well as hospitality and meet-and-greet opportunities in the GEICO Honda pit area.
"I just saw a good opportunity to do something nice," Wharton said. "We're hoping to do what we can to make their day. It's a hard time for them.
"I hope all the riders I know take a minute to come by and say hi to these kids. That would be very cool."