Columbia Speedway site of event to benefit Curing Kids Cancer Organization
Cayce, SC (James Bowers) - Losing a child to cancer is a tragedy unlike anything a parent could ever imagine. For Grainne Owen, the pain of losing her nine-year-old son Killian to acute lymphatic leukemia was compounded by the fact that It could have been avoided; there was a drug available that could have saved the young boy’s life. His caregivers simply could not afford access to it. After Killian perished as a result of his nearly four-year long battle with cancer on July 27, 2003, his mother Grainne vowed that she would never let any other family face this painful ordeal. She recalled a gesture by one of his twin brother Garrett’s athletic coaches. While the usual custom at the end of a season was to bestow the coach a gift, he instead requested that donations be made to the hospital that was treating Killian. It was in the spirit of this gesture that Grainne and her husband founded the organization Coaches Curing Kids Cancer in 2005.
The mission was simple, to get young athletes from all around to donate funds toward cancer treatment and research. They set a goal to raise $5,000 by the end of the season and they would donate the funds to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta, where Killian had been treated. They did not meet that goal, instead they greatly exceeded it! They actually ended up raising over $45,000 for the hospital’s cancer research effort. In the 13 years since the organization’s founding, the organization has raised over $12,000,000 for the development of possible cures for pediatric cancer. Their fundraising efforts have expanded to include fun events like fire truck pulls and jamborees, and this has resulted in the shortening of the name to its current Curing Kids Cancer.
Over 10,000 kids are diagnosed with cancer each year. In 2015, local boy Landon Derrick, then 6, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor was removed in a subsequent pair of surgeries, but Derrick began suffering complications as a result of nerve damage caused by the procedures. Derrick maintains a resilient attitude despite the challenges he has faced. Now, the nine-year-old has made it his mission to help other kids going through similar conditions. Derrick is a lover of Jeep SUVs so his family set up a Facebook page for Jeep lovers all over the world to send him pictures of their rides. It was the youngster who devised an idea to showcase the cool vehicles while raising money for kids who are struggling with cancer.
The Derrick family had met the Owens at a charitable tractor pull and contacted them about organizing what became the Jeep Jamboree. Grainne Owen says that they initially expected the Jamboree to be a small event, but as info spread, the list of Jeep to be displayed and vendors ballooned. When the event took place at Historic Columbia Speedway on Saturday, July 7, over 600 Jeeps from 18 states were on display in the infield of the Cayce track. Also present were vendors like state fair favorite Daley’s Hot Dogs. Community members like officers from both the Lexington and Richland County also came to help with the effort. The live music included performances from Josh McCaa, Chad Vaughn, and The Mountain Faith Band. Owen said the event came together in only six weeks and thanked the countless volunteers and sponsors that aided the effort, including Beechcreek Farms, 4 Wheel Parts, and STS Roofing. Funds raised at Saturday’s event exceeded $16,000. All of this will go toward an endowment to rename the pediatric cancer clinic at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital the Gamecock Curing Kids’ Cancer Clinic. It was a fun event for a life-saving cause.
For more information on Curing Kids’ Cancer and upcoming events, visit curingkidscancer.org. To learn more about Landon Derrick and his story, visit the Landons Jeep Page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2043719725948337/about/ .