Benefit for a ‘rock star’
Having returned on Thursday from her 12th surgery in the past year, Madison Arnot has spent more time in the hospital than any 10-year-old should have to spend.
Madison has FAP — familial adenomatous polyposis — a cancer-causing gene inherited from a parent. For Madison, the cancer first showed up when she was nine.
Through it all though, the Suffolk girl has taken everything in stride and is facing her cancer like a “rock star,” the nickname she gained from her doctors at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.
To give Madison a reason to rock out and to help with the more than $3 million in medical bills the family has amassed during the last year, Shawn Balluzzo — a race car driver at Langley Speedway — is putting together a fundraising effort.
“For us, the money certainly helps, but it’s so much more than that,” said Monica Arnot, Madison’s mother. “It makes Madison so excited. She’s in the critical aspects of her FAP, and we still have no answers, but she enjoys watching her Facebook grow, and she’ll be treated like a rock star at the race.”
Balluzzo is bringing Madison and her family to the Langley Speedway on June 12 and will race all six NASCAR division races — a total of 265 laps — and hopes to fill the entire stadium. All proceeds from the race will go to the Arnot family.
“I’m nervous and excited, and may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I want to do what I can,” Balluzzo said. “It’s great to do something you love that can help someone else. The challenge in racing all six races is that each of the cars are massively different. It’s mentally straining.”
As a further incentive for race fans to help out with the fundraiser, a client of Balluzzo, NASCAR racer Tony Stewart, signed a bumper from his 2010 Daytona 500 car and is auctioning it on Ebay for Madison.
The fundraiser materialized from a discussion between Balluzzo and a friend who knew of Madison’s situation.
“He heard me running my mouth after a race saying I’d like to take on doing all the races in one night,” Balluzzo said. “He called me out on it and said he had an idea for a fundraiser.”
After having a cancer scare himself, Balluzzo met Madison and was inspired to get the fundraiser off the ground.
“Now it’s really become a full-time job for me,” Balluzzo said. “There are a lot of cool things going on, and a lot of people have come out of the woodwork to help.”
To help make the night fun for Madison, he sent templates of his car to Madison for her to design. The car will feature that design on the night of the race.
A Facebook account — Rock Star 265 Race for Life: Benefiting Madison Arnot — also has been set up for Madison and the event.
“She wakes up and checks her Facebook just to see how much it has grown,” Monica said. “I have a 10-year-old who is addicted to Facebook, but it makes her happy.”
Monica Arnot said before Madison was rushed to surgery with less than a week’s notice earlier this May, she and her husband had managed to pay off CHKD.
“But FAP doesn’t go away,” she said. “It’s never going to go away, and the bills will just keep growing, but the fundraisers help tremendously.”
Tickets to the Langley Speedway are $10 at the door.