Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 5, 2013

YOUTH SPORTS: Racing for a cause

Northridge middle schooler honors friends, cousin

By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS

MOTTVILLE, Mich. —  Northridge Middle School eighth grader Bradley Blackburn has watched several classmates —and good friends — deal with cancer over the past few years. A cousin is also battling the disease.

But Blackburn has found a way both honor his friends and fight the disease they are battling at the same time.

In his spare time, Blackburn races cars. And with a new season starting at his main track — Mottville Speedway — Blackburn wanted to do something special this season.

Mission accomplished.

Blackburn’s race car — he competes in the sportsman division at Mottville — is decorated with several anti-cancer messages this season. A new season started Sunday afternoon, and Blackburn’s two friends — Sam Grewe and Will Mishler — were both on hand to lend support to Blackburn as he took to the track for the first time this season in his updated car.

Grewe and Mishler’s names adorn special ribbons on the car — along with Blackburn’s cousin Austin, 17.  

As he prepped  his car in the Mottville Speedway pit area for Sunday  night’s races, Blackburn beamed as he talked about the idea for the car design.

“It came to me during math class,” Blackburn said with an even wider smile.

Blackburn, Grewe and Mishler have known each other since third grade.

Blackburn’s mother, Chris, was amazed when her son came home that night and told her what he wanted to do for his friends.

“He’s a wonderful kid,” Chris Blackburn said. “We’re very proud of him.”

But Blackburn’s car design is about more than just honoring his friends.

It’s also about doing something tangible to fight cancer. The car is adorned with cancer ribbons — most of them blank for now.

But Blackburn is hoping that changes soon. For a minimum donation of $5, members the public can have a name written on one of the ribbons — a special recognition for a loved onw lost to cancer, or one currently battling the disease.

Oh, and just in case all this doesn’t clearly convey how Blackburn feels about cancer, there’s one more message on the car’s back end that should close the deal.

It says simply, “Cancer Sucks.”

“I thought this would be a really good way to turn a negative into a positive,” Blackburn said.

His friend Sam Grewe agrees.

“It’s pretty cool,” Grewe said with a smile.

For more information on helping with a donation, look Blackburn up on Facebook