AVONDALE, Arizona – Bobby and Graham Rahal have a special affinity for their Verizon IndyCar Series team’s newest sponsor.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced today a partnership with One Cure, an initiative from the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University, which will be the primary sponsor on Graham Rahal’s No. 15 Honda for two races this season – the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway on April 6-7 and the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway from Aug. 31-Sept. 2.
One Cure, which uses research from innovative cancer treatments for pets involved in clinical trials to benefit humans with their cancer treatment, will also be an associate sponsor for RLL throughout the season.
“Our goal is to raise awareness for cancer research, to open people's eyes a little bit to the connection between dogs and humans, that in many ways all cancer is alike and that the concept to find a cure for cancer could literally be walking right beside us,” Graham Rahal said.
“As many of us know, because it's touched all of us, cancer affects each and every one of us, really. Whether it's a family member, whether it's a friend, a furry friend, it certain has affected all of us.”
One Cure made its Verizon IndyCar Series debut as a sponsor in last year’s Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports car of Jay Howard, in an effort led by the Tony Stewart Foundation. Funding for the effort to partner with RLL this year came from “a generous benefactor” of One Cure, according to Graham Rahal.
One Cure will benefit from the exposure created with its INDYCAR sponsorship, said Dr. Susan Lana, professor of oncology at Colorado State University.
“The main mission is to raise the awareness of what we call comparative oncology,” said Dr. Lana. “It's studying cancer across different species, so recognizing that humans and dogs and cats and other animals also get cancer, that many of the cancers that we get are very similar in dogs and in people.
“For example, osteosarcoma, which is bone cancer, happens in kids, young adults. We see it commonly in our veterinary patients, in dogs. It looks similar under the microscope, behaves very much the same, we treat it very much the same. By looking at and studying the disease we see in dogs, trying new treatments, hopefully (it will translate) into better treatments for humans as well and extending the life of both our veterinary patients as well as the human patients affected by this.”
Graham Rahal shared his story on how a family dog, Bear, was recently stricken by cancer.
“My mom just lost one of our long-time dogs to cancer the week before,” he said. “My Aunt Judy has been affected by cancer many times, so this certainly hits near and dear to all of our hearts.
“We're excited to be a part of this. We're excited to raise awareness and race for a cure.”
Graham’s father, team co-owner Bobby Rahal, joked that “people care more about dogs than they do about their own kids,” and added his support for the cause.
“This is a fabulous effort,” said the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time season champion. “It came to our attention several months ago. I actually visited Flint. I’ve got to tell you, the people, the facility itself, was very impressive, what they're doing. Forgetting just the normal care of dogs, there's also horses cared for there as well, and other animals.
“We're thrilled to be a part of it, thrilled to try to help them in their quest by raising awareness, by generating funds to the charity.”