by Lisa Tome
Most years, Tyler Burchett works the demolition derby at the Cecil County Fair as a firefighter with Singerly Fire Company.
This year, Burchett, 18, will be behind the wheel of one of those cars.
And so will Tyler's mom, Patrice - who works as a paramedic for Cecil's Department of Emergency Services.
The Burchetts, of Elkton, will be Crashin' Cancer.
That cause is one that's very close to both their hearts. Tyler's father and Patrice's husband, Rob Burchett, was diagnosed with a rare type of liver bile duct cancer two years ago. Rob Burchett, was diagnosed with inoperable stage four cancer and has beat the odds. He endures regular treatments.
"During this journey and through my job as a paramedic, we have witnessed many cancer patients who struggle on a daily basis with the financial devastation that cancer brings. Patients of all works of life stricken with cancer find themselves having to choose between medicine and food, paying doctor bills or rent, and if they have children, finding the means to still provide for them and keep a roof over their head," said Patrice Burchett. "We are driving for Rob and others in need. We wanted to do something to support him in a different way. And driving in a derby was on my bucket list."
"I've always wanted to do a derby. This way we can raise money for Union Hospital and benefit people. And everyone can have fun while watching," said Tyler Burchett.
"This is extra special. A bonding experience with my teenage son," said Patrice Burchett. "And helping others helps us cope with our own impacts from cancer." The Burchetts also have three other children ages 16, 11, and 7.
Skip McClellan, a seasoned demolition derby veteran who lives in Elkton, and his wife, Jen, have stepped up to help the Burchetts. Skip McClellan donated one of the cars and is working to get them derby ready. To compete, both cars have to have the gas tanks moved, the doors and bumper welded, and all glass removed.
"We do this derby thing 364 days a year. We take off Christmas," said Skip McClellan. He gave a Chevy Lumina to the Burchett cause.
"He (McClellan) is my derby expert. He will make sure the car runs and keep us from getting killed," said Patrice Burchett.
Patrice's father, Lee Forman, donated a Plymouth Breeze on behalf of Dynamic Automotive.
The way the fundraiser will work is that for a donation names and messages will be written on one of the derby cars. You may use this to honor someone who battled the disease or send a message of hope to those still in the fight. All proceeds will then be donated to The Cancer Center at Union Hospital. Those funds will be used for cancer patients in need.
The pair also need business sponsors who will help with the remaining car preparations. To help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate or for more information go to www.youcaring.com-union-hospital-cancer-patients-578976#. The goal is to raise $5,000. They have received their derby assignments. Tyler will drive on July 30 at 2 p.m. Patrice will drive on July 30 at 8 p.m.