When Kansas teen James Miller was diagnosed with cancer, he decided right then that he would fight and eventually beat the disease. As James himself has put it, he’s on a road to victory.
James has Burkitt lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that impacts his immune system. So when presented with the diagnosis, James knew that beyond beating cancer, he wanted to race. Dirt track racing has been part of the Burkitt family for decades, so James thought this would be the perfect opportunity to put the pedal to the metal. “I’ve grown up with it,” Miller told ABC affiliate KAKE. “My dad, cousins, uncles, all race so I wanted to.”
So Kids with Cancer Racing, an organization that travels the country and puts drivers battling cancer behind the wheel, brought a car for James to race at 81 Speedway in Park City this past weekend. His opponent would be a familiar face, and someone James has been wanting to race for a long time. His father, Brandon Miller, would be lining up right next to him at the starting line.
While James had a copilot who assisted with acceleration, the steering and brakes were all under his control. After 8 laps of leading the pack, James Miller took the checkered flag. His family, his friends, and spectators in attendance all celebrated the victory — hopefully, the first in a long career ahead. His father almost speechless after finally seeing his son not only race but win, all while getting the chance to be on the track at the same time. “It was unreal, for what he’s going through right now to still have the strength to even do what he just did. I’m amazed, but really it don’t surprise me because he’s a fighter.”
James’ mom, Megan, also sharing in the proud moment, saying “My family raced, and then his dad and his family all raced and seeing everybody come together, it’s just one big family.”
After recognizing James and presenting him with a trophy, the track also handed over a check for $2,530 — funds raised from those in attendance at 81 Speedway.
As for this 13-year-old’s future in racing, James stands to inherit his father’s car when the time comes for his dad to retire. Brandon, like his son, knows this disease is just a bump in the road, adding “Everything he’s done he fights and he’s going to fight this, take care of it, and then get back out here.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for James and his family.