IF YOU GO
* What: Pistons & Fenders, benefiting Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.
* When: 6 p.m. today.
* Where: Coker Tire Museum, 1317 Chestnut St.
* Admission: $100.
* Website: www.hatcherfoundation.org.
Last weekend, a team of drivers at Daytona International Speedway revved their engines for childhood cancer patients.
The drivers, including Brian Johnson of rock band AC/DC, drove for the Chattanooga-based Fifty Plus racing team to raise money for the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer. Also on the team for the Rolex 24 race were Chattanooga businessman Byron DeFoor, former Rolex 24 overall winners Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Jim Pace, and former Rolex 24 class winner Carlos de Quesada.
Named for the late Austin Hatcher "Hatch" Osborn, son of Dr. Jim and Amy Jo Osborn, the Austin Hatcher Foundation serves pediatric cancer patients and their families.
"The biggest thing we look for is to generate money to continue to provide services for free," said Dr. Osborn, chairman of the foundation.
The other goal is to raise an awareness that more than the body's damaged cells need to be treated; the patient and the families need care as well, care that is not provided by medicine alone. The Osborns want to be able to help families navigate the "swirling spiral of horror" that comes with pediatric cancer.
"A lot of people see the disease itself as something you treat with chemotherapy or radiation or surgery, without really understanding the side effects that are a result of the stress, the treatment, the missing school, the anxiety, the things that go with it," Dr. Osborn said.
Last Saturday, donations came in from as far as Australia and Brazil, he said. They are still waiting on numbers. Tonight, a motorsports celebration and fundraiser, Pistons & Fenders, is being held to raise money for the foundation. Hosted by Chattanooga motorcycle shop Pandora's European Motorsports at the Coker Tire Museum, with a live auction by Corky Coker, Pistons & Fenders honors Dr. Osborn's enthusiasm for cars, as well as the American Le Mans racing series, which is a partner with the foundation.
Also sharing an affection for auto racing is 12-year-old Elliott White of Chattanooga. Diagnosed with cancer on Feb. 20, 2006, Elliott and his family have been embraced and welcomed at Hatch's House of Hope, which provides counseling for families affected by pediatric cancer.
Melissa White, Elliott's mother, said Hatch's House, inside Children's Hospital at Erlanger, has been a blessing for her family. During Elliott's treatment sessions, her teenage daughters went to the house for music and art therapy or just to escape the hospital environment. Melissa and her husband, James, had marital counseling to help them through the toughest times. Elliott, recently cleared to return to public school, received cognitive remediation therapy to help restore some of the functions lost by chemotherapy.
"It has just done wonders for his self-esteem, for his ability to focus at school," she said.
Ultimately, said Dr. Osborn, one of the primary goals of the foundation is to let families know they aren't alone. Mrs. White knows how important that is.
"I've said to newly diagnosed parents, 'I know how you feel now. Just know that you're not alone. There are other parents and other families. The day will come when you are able to breathe again.' "
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...