Don Wickstrum, youth pastor at Grace Church in New Glarus, Wisconsin, shares his story of racing to the top of Pikes Peak.
His story, however, is about much more than an adrenalin-fueled automobile race. It’s about running the ultimate race—and finding what matters most.
A newly released documentary film produced by I Am Second, a global storytelling organization, offers an intimate look at entrepreneur, pastor and racer, Don Wickstrum and his years-long journey to conquer the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, all the time leaning on his faith and battling an aggressive cancer diagnosis.
“Even though life may not always seem to present you with the best hand, the best place to put that hand is in the hands of God,” says Wickstrum.
With uplifting messages that encourage viewers in their walk with God, the film “Chasing Hope” releases just in time for families and friends to watch it together during the holiday season.
“This story is for anyone who is searching for hope,” said John Humphrey, Vice President of I Am Second. “We knew Don for several years before his diagnosis, and when we saw what he was trying to accomplish at Pikes Peak, we jumped at the chance to share his powerful story with a larger audience. Don represents his faith in an engaging, authentic way. He has a desire to share the eternal hope he’s found in Christ, and he puts his faith into action. That’s an example for all of us.”
Holding tightly to his childhood dream of racing Pikes Peak, he made a deal with his father to first go to college. Having experienced significant hardship growing up, however, Wickstrum wrestled with his faith and lacked a sense of hope. In college he declared himself an atheist and set out to disprove religion.
“Probably midway through my sophomore year, I was getting really fed up with this whole Christianity thing because what I started to discover is that it wasn’t as easy to prove wrong as I thought,” Wickstrum recalls. “I specifically remember coming across this moral dilemma, thinking, ‘Okay, I admit it, the Bible’s true and this is legit, but I don’t know that I want to give my life to it.’”
One unforgettable evening, Wickstrum had a powerful encounter with God that changed the trajectory of his life. He surrendered his life to Christ and felt true hope in his heart for the first time.
In the following years, Wickstrum became successfully involved in racing, ministry, and serial entrepreneurship, owning one of the largest robotic integrators in America. However, in late 2018, everything changed when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer, forcing him to sell his business and evaluate his future.
“As I prayed, I really felt like God was opening the door for me to race at Pike’s Peak,” explains Don. “I sought my wife’s counsel on it, and she asked me, ‘If eight-year-old you had heard of a guy like you that was facing a tough circumstance, and yet he was able to accomplish his dream of going to Pike’s Peak, do you think that would have given you hope?’”
In pondering his wife’s profound question, the Fastest Pastor, as he’s affectionately known by church members and fans, committed to put the wheel in God’s hands and pursue Pikes Peak, aspiring to share his faith and inspire hope in others.
The second-oldest motorsports race in America, the Pikes Peak race has no equal. Boasting 156 turns over a 12.42-mile course, beginning at over 9,300 feet and ending at 14,115 feet above sea level, the harrowing course has long served as a driver’s proving ground. Conquering the climb has been a dream of Wickstrum’s since he first saw the race on TV when he was eight years old.
Don Wickstrum serves as youth pastor at Grace Church in New Glarus, Wisconsin. He is a leader in ministry, a counselor, a mentor, a husband and a father. He continues to race and share the Gospel amid his ongoing battle with cancer, hoping to inspire and minister to others. To read more of his story, visit fastestpastor.com.
You can also view Wickstrum’s story by clicking iamsecond.com/film/chasing-hope/. And for other inspiring stories visit iamsecond.com. The website that features written and film-based stories of more than 150 athletes, actors, models, musicians, cultural influencers and everyday people who have stepped in front of the camera to declare, “I Am Second.”