Contest To Raise Awareness About Rare Cancer That Took Auxvasse Boy's Life

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AUXVASSE - What started out as a tribute for a 7-year-old boy, has now set the stage to put a national spotlight on the rare form of cancer that took his life.

Twenty-two-year-old Auxvasse native Kristina Maddox has beat out more than 40,000 cars in the Toyota Racing Sponsafy Your Ride contest to become a finalist.

About a month ago the North West University interactive digital media major designed a race car in memory of her family friend Zac Talley. Talley was a first grader at Auxvasse Elementary School when he died from diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, a rare form of cancer that affects less than 200 children in the U.S. every year. DIPG is a tumor located in the middle of the brain stem. Children diagnosed with it have a survival rate of about nine months. The one year survival rate is about 30 percent and a two year survival rate is about 10 percent.

Maddox created the green car with baseballs on it because Talley played for the North Callaway little league team. It reads "DIPG Warriors" and "Zac Attack" on the car. Maddox is hoping the car will help spread awareness about DIPG. She said being a finalist means the world to her.

"For the warriors and angels it's a step closer to a cure," Maddox said. "The DIPG community has one goal: to promote awareness so there is research for a cure. It takes baby steps and this would be a huge step towards the goal!"

Maddox said it's not just her community helping to spread the word, but people all across the country.

"I currently talk to Teresa Collins from New York that has been a tremendous help with promoting our car," Maddox said. "Other organizations have helped too like PAC, Kids vs. Cancer and tons of groups and families. I just have been touched by this cause and won't stop here promoting DIPG."

But no matter how many people step forward to help, Maddox said she is still surprised at the response.

"I never thought that I would be talking with people from across the country," Maddox said. "I am so touched every time a DIPG parent or family member writes to me thanking me for what I'm doing. It has really made it into such a personal issue. I will continue to stay in the community and help with awareness!"

Now Maddox is asking for the community's help one more time as she pushes to become the winner of the contest. The winning design will be applied to an actual race car. The winner will be chosen based on a judged grading scale and public voting. It will then be the pace car May 20 at the NASCAR All-Star Race in Charlotte, N.C. To vote for Zac and the DIPG Warriors and Angels click on this link:

Voting does not require registration, just click on the button that says "vote." Voters can vote once a day per computer until May 1.

To read more about Zac and the DIPG car visit KOMU 8's previous story here.

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