How this Latter-day Saint motocross racer fulfilled the dream of his late friend at a national event

SALT LAKE CITY — It was always Hunter Syddall’s dream to qualify for the annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee.

That dream seemed forever lost when the 18-year-old from Central Valley, Utah County, died in a tragic dirt bike accident in Delta last year.

When Rene “R.J.” Rodriguez, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and fellow motocross rider from Layton, qualified for this year’s event, he did the next best thing.

Utah motocross rider Rene Rodriguez holds up the No. 30 in honor of his deceased friend, Hunter Syddall, after competing on his behalf at the The 38th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship last week the at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee.
Utah motocross rider Rene Rodriguez holds up the No. 30 in honor of his deceased friend, Hunter Syddall, after competing on his behalf at the The 38th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship last week the at Loretta Lynn Ranch in Tennessee. Credit: Rodriguez family

Rodriguez paid tribute to Syddall by wearing his No. 30 at the national championship, which took place July 29-Aug. 3. The Loretta Lynn event, which takes place in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, is considered the top event in the nation for amateur motocross racers.

After finishing fifth overall in his division, Rodriguez and his family met Hunter’s parents, Steve and RaKell Syddall, for dinner in Provo on Aug. 7, where they presented the the Latter-day Saint family with the No. 30 bib and other items.

“Hunter’s dream was Loretta Lynns, that was his ultimate goal,” Steve Syddall said. “My biggest fear with my son, when he left, was that he would be forgotten. When R.J. called and said that’s what he wanted to do, it meant the world to us. Our prayers were answered. It’s a year and a half later and our son hasn’t been forgotten.”

Racers Bryson Green and Jagger Grace, also from Utah, along with Gage Swanson from Idaho, all wore Hunter Syddall’s No. 30 in different divisions at the same event last year, which the Syddall family appreciated.

Knowing how much it meant to the Syddall family gave Rodriguez true delight to honor his friend.

“I wanted to take him there with me and running his No. 30 I felt like I was able to do that,” Rodriguez said. “What I learned from this experience is that doing things that help other people to be happy also makes you happy.”

Right, Rene “R.J.” Rodriguez presents Steve and RaKell Syddall with items he wore representing their late son Hunter Syddall at the motocross national championships last week.
Right, Rene “R.J.” Rodriguez presents Steve and RaKell Syddall with items he wore representing their late son Hunter Syddall at the motocross national championships last week. Credit: Rodriguez family

Steve Syddall said his son was on target to qualify for the Loretta Lynns before his accident. Hunter Syddall was also preparing to submit his papers to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rodriguez will soon submit his own mission paperwork.

“Hunter idolized R.J.,” Steve Syddall said. “For the Rodriguez family to do this, it was quite an honor.”

RaKell Syddall agreed.

“Hunter was the world to us, so the fact that other people loved him and still remember him like we do means so much,” she said. “Hunter was fighting and trying so hard to get to Loretta’s and that’s all he wanted to do so it’s awesome that he’s been there now the last two years with the help of others riding for him.”

The Syddall family created a foundation called the Forever30 Foundation as another way to honor and keep their son’s memory alive. They use the hashtag “#30in30for30,” which represents 30 good deeds in 30 days in honor of No. 30.

“Our hope is to inspire others to share kindness and goodness the way we have been shown and the way Hunter has shown others,” his mother said.