“Your child has a life threatening condition and is going to need emergency brain surgery to manage it.”
This is a hard sentence to digest. Yet, as my wife Julia and I found out when our son Dean was diagnosed with communicating hydrocephalus at six months of age, this is something that thousands of parents hear every year.
Six weeks and three brain surgeries later, Dean’s condition was under control and the long process of learning to provide and care for a child with hydrocephalus began.
After the dust had settled, Julia and I wanted to do everything we could to not just help Dean, but others that were battling this condition every day. However, neither of us was going to become a neurosurgeon any time soon, so we had to find a more creative way. After meeting the folks at the Hydrocephalus Association, we knew we had found a group where we could make an impact… but how?
Fortunately, Dean gave us the answer. Racecars!
Dean loves racecars (thank you Pixar). So we figured a unique way to raise awareness for HA was to build a racecar, plaster the Hydrocephalus Association logo all over it, and take it around race tracks as fast as we could for incredibly long periods of time. And so, the Hydrocephalus Racing Team was born!
So, what business do I have thinking I can actually do that?
In my real life, I own a company called Windmill Studios that fabricates special effects and sets for the film and television industry. So I have a lot of experience doing things I have no experience doing. I have also been wrenching on my own cars my entire life. I have, however, never built a racecar. But how hard could that possibly be? After months of research and shopping around, we figured we had a decent enough plan to at least get things going. Then, one day, Julia’s sixteen year old minivan decided to stop working. And I decided that I was not ready to crush it. Besides, this was the van that carried Dean to the hospital all those times. This van was going to live on… as an endurance racer! So we bought Julia a new family hauler, and I started ripping the Odyssey apart!
Why a minivan you may ask? Why not a “fast” car?
First, Odysseys have huge, reliable engines that are built to haul you, the spouse, the kids, the six suitcases, grandma, and the dog to Wally World. That’s endurance if I’ve ever seen it. Second, and most importantly, you don’t’ see too many minivans on racetracks, and if you do, they attract a bunch of attention. Since this is all about raising awareness for hydrocephalus, we figured it’s the perfect choice!
Our first race takes place on August 11th and 12th at Thompson Speedway in Thompson, CT. We’ve got a great team assembled and we are thrilled that the Hydrocephalus Association is on board! HA will be on site with us and we will bring our cause to a completely new market in a fun and exciting way.
But that is just the beginning. Between races we want to take the car to hydrocephalus walks and outings all over America. We want to give young hydrocephalus patients the opportunity to see the car, meet the drivers, and take a seat behind the wheel. Watching the smile on Dean’s face when he pretends to drive it is priceless, and we can’t wait to bring that smile to as many kids as we can.
So, come get involved! Here’s how:
Each race, we are going to look to individuals and companies to sponsor us per lap, with 100 percent of those donations going directly to the Hydrocephalus Association! So, if you sponsor us at 10¢ per lap, and we complete 200 laps, then $20 will go to HA! Simple, right? The more laps we can crank out, the more we raise for HA! Our goal for the first race is to raise $10,000 for HA, so get yourself invested and help spread the word while we raise funds and much needed awareness for hydrocephalus in the most exciting way possible!
See you on the track! Visit our website to learn more about how you can get involved!
This post was written by Bennett Wilson, a Brooklyn, NY-based HydroDad and car racing enthusiast!