Timmy Tyrrell remembers the first time he tried Go-Kart racing at the age of 4 at Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas.
“I was a little scared, but once I tried it, it was like ‘hey it’s not too bad, it’s fun!’” the 7-year-old Manassas boy said.
Then competition struck, as another child told Tyrrell he was too small to race.
More determined than ever, Tyrrell went home and practiced everyday for “hours,” said his mom, Tina, who was worried about the yard and the neighbors.
“And then that child showed up at the next race and Timmy said, ‘See you, bye, ’ took off and won the next 5 races," his mom said.
Tyrell's Go-Kart enthusiasm didn’t end after participating in “Kid Cart 1,” the beginning level at the Speedway.
Timmy saw pictures of his cousin, Audrey, age 4 ½, who had cancer. Then, he saw a family friend, Ella, age 6, who was also suffering from cancer. He noticed she had no hair.
He approached his father, Timmy. “Dad, I think I want to start a charity. Let’s raise money for kids with cancer, I want to help them,” the first-grader at R.C. Haydon Elementary recalled.
It didn’t take long for father and son to combine their love of racing with a desire to help families of cancer patients. Now, when young Timmy races the Karts, sponsors, relatives and friends donate to Inspired Athletes, a 501(c )(3) for each lap he makes, or they pledge a dollar amount. The charity aids families of cancer patients.
“The biggest problem facing parents (of kids with cancer) is they have to take off work and run out of paid leave. Also, their support network is not as wide. They are behind in car payments and electric bills, just in trying to care for their child,” said Timmy's dad.
Through Inspired Athletes, young Timmy—with his father as crew—is specifically raising money for the Jeffrey Virostek Fund, named for a 4-year-old Chantilly child who died of leukemia.
Timmy is thrilled people are supporting his plight. “A lot of people want to donate money to me,” he says with a shrug.
Mom Tina said Timmy’s always been “very compassionate, very caring” and donates toys and items regularly. His aunt and Grandfather are in wheelchairs, so he’s “always been aware of disabilities, he’s very aware of helping others. He has a very special way about him.”
“I just want to help people because everyone’s quitting their jobs to help their child. I want them to buy things and live,” Timmy said.
Tina Tyrrell acknowledged: “We’re teaching him to make a difference in this world.”
Timmy said he doesn’t know how long he’s going to race, but knows he loves it. “I figured out something: Anything with wheels I want to try,” he said.
Still, Timmy knows he can’t just race Go-Karts all day. His teacher doesn’t appreciate his potential celebrity status as the next Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I still have to do homework," he lamented.
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