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NICK SCHWIEN â ¢ Hays Daily News Brendon Damon shakes out his car during the play date in April at RPM Speedway in Hays.

Racers rally for support in finding a cure for breast cancer

It didn't take much to convince Brenden Damon to make a switch.

After all, it was for a good cause, and Damon and his family love doing things for charity.

So it seemed a natural fit when he decided to race last year and this year to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

The idea came to fruition during the track awards banquet for Salina Speedway a few years ago. Damon had bought $100 worth of raffle tickets from Kurtis Pihl's mother, Karla, during a 50-50 drawing at Salina Speedway to support research for breast cancer.

"I told her if I won the drawing, I'd donate it back and then match what it was," he said.

Then later at the banquet, Pihl's mother offered a new suggestion.

For 2012, Damon had a special wrap on his car promoting breast cancer awareness, thanks to the suggestion.

"It didn't take much at all," Damon said. "I was beginning to work on trying to put together a concert or something like that at the time to help generate support, but that was going to take up a lot of time."

He also decided to donate all winnings to promote breast cancer awareness. He liked the idea so much, he decided to get another special wrap on his car this year and do the same thing.

"My whole family gets enjoyment through doing things for charity," he said.

Since he began the journey, Damon has raised $13,000.

That number will continue to grow, and he's hoping he'll have his specially designed T-shirts in stock for Friday's races in Salina.

That night will be a special Topless Challenge night at the track for modifieds and Northern sport mods, which Damon drives.

Pihl has helped sell T-shirts in advance for the Race for a Cure night at the speedway, and proceeds from those sales will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

"He's been doing a wonderful job,"  Pihl said about Damon. "His T-shirt sales and other things go toward it. He's been wonderful in helping me raise awareness."

Pihl has had a sister-in-law affected by breast cancer, and approximately a dozen more friends as well. That's why she's so passionate about the cause.

Pihl, from Lindsborg, has taken part in walks in Colorado that serve as fundraisers for the cause.

She started a special "pink" night at Minneapolis Raceway four years ago, then did one each at Minneapolis and Salina the next year. The Minneapolis track has been closed the last two seasons, but Pihl continues her work at Salina.

"My husband and I have been around racing ever since we've been together," said Pihl, whose son Kurtis races in the sport mod class with Damon.

The past few years have seen more awareness being raised about the disease at area dirt tracks. RPM Speedway in Hays also has taken an active approach to help in fundraising efforts.

On June 15, RPM officials had drivers and pit crews decorate bras in a tasteful manner and display them along the tech row fence. Several were decorated, and winners were picked and awarded prizes.

It's become a growing trend for drivers like Damon and his family to support breast cancer awareness the last few seasons.

Cody Pancake also has a special wrap on his sport mod promoting the awareness of breast cancer this season. Pancake lost his mother to the disease earlier this season.

"More cars and more tracks are getting involved in it, too," Damon said. "It's nice to help raise awareness about breast cancer."

NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net