If you’ve ever seen a NASCAR race, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the names of national brands like Monster Energy, McDonald’s and AdventHealth covering every inch of every race car from bumper to bumper. On October 24, 2021, you’ll see another name on every car — and this time, it’s not a household brand name.
Honoring Cancer Heroes on the Speedway
This year, AdventHealth joins The Martin Truex Jr. Foundation (MTJF) and The NASCAR Foundation as the presenting sponsor of the Honor a Cancer Hero online auction. During the auction, NASCAR fans bid to have their Cancer Hero’s name placed on the signature panel of their favorite driver’s car.
Names will be featured on the race cars during the NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and ARCA Menards Series races at Kansas Speedway, or during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Martinsville Speedway. Proceeds from the online auction benefit the MTJF and the NASCAR Foundation, two organizations that are dedicated to championing health and well-being.
Meet the Cancer Heroes We’re Honoring
These are the stories behind the names you’ll see on two NASCAR Cup Series cars, as told by the people who nominated them. Chip Ganassi Racing, another partner of AdventHealth, will have two NASCAR Cup Series cars at Kansas Speedway: the No. 42 car driven by Ross Chastain and the No. 1 car driven by Kurt Busch.
Nominated by The Watermelon Family
Corbett John is 10 months old and was diagnosed at 3 months old with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer. Corbett loves to play with his big brother Rhett and their kitten, Kitty Kat, and he shows off his central line vest like a true hero.
“We chose to honor Corbett as our Cancer Hero because he inspires us every day with his bright smile and infectious laugh. He is very special to all of us in the watermelon industry,” says Rachel Syngo, Ross Chastain’s cousin and Melon 1 team member.
Corbett is the son of Brandi and Kyle John. “Brandi has been a part of our watermelon family for many years. She worked with Ross as a watermelon industry ambassador back in 2014 when Ross drove the watermelon truck in the Camping World Truck Series.” For the last four years, Brandi has worked for Melon 1.
Brandi has shared her family’s daily life openly, including the ups and downs, to increase awareness of childhood cancer. “Everyone in the watermelon industry stands behind her and we want to do our part in bringing the awareness we all hope will help every child and family powering through the unimaginable diagnosis of childhood cancer,” says Rachel.
Brandi recently posted this quote in one of her updates on Corbett: “Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children. Scary facts. I don’t like my head to go to those thoughts, but this is reality. Let’s bring awareness and do better for our children.”
“When we read this post from Brandi, we immediately knew the name we would like to see honored on the No. 42 car,” Rachel says. “We hope Ross having Corbett’s name on his car will do just that: bring awareness to the reality of childhood cancer and highlight the perseverance of kids like Corbett.”
Ross Chastain’s Message for Corbett
“The opportunity that AdventHealth, Martin (Truex Jr.) and Sherry (Pollex) have given the rest of us, through the Truex Foundation, to honor a Cancer Hero on our cars is wonderful,” says Ross Chastain.
“It certainly makes me consider all we're doing in racing and how we can use our platform to do more than just race. Corbett John is the name that will be on my car, and I'm really proud to be honoring him.”
“He's a little boy of a family that we've known now for a little while through farming. His parents, Brandi and Kyle, are close friends of my family and the bigger watermelon family, and they've been heroes to all of us for what they've been through with Corbett's illness.”
“I’m just so proud of them and happy to be able to highlight Corbett and his family. I can't want to have Corbett's name on our car for Kansas and look forward to doing them proud,” Chastain says.
Nominated by Dane Gross
“Madeline is my 13-year-old niece (my wife's sister's daughter). After returning to school from the 2019 Thanksgiving break, my sister-in-law, Brianne Holmes, received a call from Madeline's school. By December, it was determined that she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia,” Dane Gross says.
“Madeline, who has Down syndrome, didn't really understand what was happening. She was thrown into a very chaotic and painful situation. After spending 133 days in the hospital, Madeline was declared in remission on September 8, 2021.”
“Madeline will always be our hero. She endured something that she did not understand. Her hair fell out, she lost a lot of weight and just wanted to go home and see her brother, Logan. Through all of it, Madeline didn't complain. She lifted the spirits of all those who came into her room to visit and check on her. She is the best and we all love her.”
“I had won Kurt Busch’s race-winning gloves from the 2019 Kentucky Race in the Dale Jr. Foundation Skeleton Gloves charity auction. Later that year, I brought the gloves to the Martinsville race, hoping to maybe get a picture with Kurt.”
“I showed him the gloves and he was all excited to see them again. I told Kurt about Madeline, and Kurt — being the great guy that he is — said he would write Madeline's name on his gloves and send them to her after the race. He even tweeted before the race wishing Madeline, and all those with cancer, the best.”
“I shared this with the family, and everyone was very excited to watch the race. And wouldn't you know it, Kurt goes out and wins the race! And true to his word, he sent Madeline his gloves.”
“This year, to celebrate Madeline in remission, I was determined to get Madeline’s name on Kurt's car. We continued to keep in touch. Kurt frequently asked how Madeline was doing and if there was anything he could do,” Dane says.
Kurt Busch's Message to Madeline
“I am so excited to have Madeline’s name and ‘Team Mad’ on our car for the Kansas race. I admire Madeline’s strength and bravery. The fact that she’s a fan of mine just makes it so much more special for me to have her along for the ride. We are proud to have the honor to recognize her and all of the family and friends that love and support her every day,” says Kurt Busch.
Honor Your Cancer Hero Today
Have a Cancer Hero in mind who you’d like to nominate? Donate $25 or more to feature your Cancer Hero’s name on our Virtual Honor Wall on NASCAR.com from October 21 to November 1, 2021, as part of the NASCAR Foundation and Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s Honor a Cancer Hero program, presented by AdventHealth. Click here to learn more.