A former GLIAC champion is turning tragedy into inspiration – and maybe even a career.
Derek Stone, a 2010 SVSU graduate who won two GLIAC titles and qualified for nationals three times during his undergraduate career, was hit with tragedy last January.
“I lost my cousin, and then two weeks later I lost my best friend,” he said.
Stone said that the deaths of Michael Beatty and Thomas Daley inspired him to organize a road race in their memories. The initial plans fell through as Stone accepted a job in retail management after graduation and moved from Saginaw to Traverse City. After he got settled, however, the idea still lingered in his head.
“I was at work one day and I thought, ‘You know, I want to start a company. I’ll put this race on and base my company on organizing road races and triathlons,” he said.
With that thought, MileStone Racing was born.
Stone, a graduate of Lapeer East High School, already has two races planned, one in his hometown of Metamora and the other in Lapeer.
One of those races, scheduled for Saturday, June 2, is the Inaugural Beatty-Daley challenge, a USA Track & Field-sanctioned event that includes the Beatty Mile, the Daley 5K and the Beatty-Daley 5K Walk.
A portion of the proceeds from the event will go toward two scholarships, the Thomas Daley Agricultural Scholarship and the Beatty-Daley Scholarship.
Stone said that if things go well with these first two races, he hopes to make his work at MileStone Racing into a full-time job.
“I’m hoping to make enough money by our first race to replace my salary,” Stone said. “Hopefully within six to seven months, I’m doing this as a career.”
For now, Stone is relying on help from friends and former teammates to get his business off the ground. Among his co-workers at MileStone Racing are Amanda Genther, a 2011 SVSU graduate, and Nick Ekel, a former all-GLIAC athlete for the Cardinals now running at Wyoming University.
“Right now, everyone has volunteered to do this for free, but once I get paid I’m going to pay them to reimburse them for their time and effort,” Stone said.
Because the only main cost for the company at this point is insurance, Stone said that his venture doesn’t come with all the risk that other entrepreneurs face.
“There’s really not that much cost going into it,” he said. “Just a lot of time.”
In addition to getting MileStone Racing off the ground, Stone is also in the process of getting his coaching certification, which he plans to use to help aspiring athletes in need of guidance.
“It’s kind of like a personal trainer, but more like a coach for running and triathlons,” he said.
He hopes to put that certification to use by establishing a running camp for young athletes in Traverse City through his company.
“I met a kid up here in Traverse City who used to run against me at Grand Valley, and we became really good friends,” Stone said. “Now we’re going to start a running camp for kids K-12.”
The camp is scheduled for Monday, June 25 to Friday, June 29.
Stone said that in addition to planning a triathlon on Lake Michigan, he also hopes to bring his influence further south and host a race in the Great Lakes Bay Region, though he’s not sure when.
“I want to give back to the community,” he said. “I want Saginaw Valley to know what I’m doing.”
MileStone Racing accepts any person who volunteers to help stage an event. For more information, visit www.racemilestone.com.