BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Graham Rahal has always had dogs in his life.
Like many pet owners, he has been touched the loss of a dog due to cancer, including the recent passing of his mother’s Labradoodle named Bear. That’s what makes his NTT IndyCar Series team’s partnership with One Cure and Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Care Center so important to the star driver.
“Did you know that humans and dogs share 85 percent of the same DNA?” Rahal asked a group of fans who attended a special meet-and-greet with Arrow, the six-month-old Alaskan Malamute that Rahal and his wife, Courtney Force, adopted as a young pup.
“When you had a dog that had cancer, the solution would have been to put them down,” Rahal said. “But the answer to cancer for us might be right here with Arrow. Cancer in dogs looks exactly like it does for people under the microscope. They respond to the same treatment – chemo, radiation. Rather than not trying to help them, we can cure in a dog and then help us.”
The meet-and-greet with Arrow, held at the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing compound at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday, fit perfectly with One Cure’s mission of improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in pets, then use its research and knowledge to benefit humans with cancer.
“It was a unique opportunity for us,” Rahal said. “A lot of people know we’re partnered with CSU One Cure for the last couple of years. It’s Arrow’s first race (being at the racetrack) and it matched up great with One Cure, so we had a little meet-and-greet for fans and Arrow’s Instagram followers to spread the word about One Cure and all the great work that they do.”
Launched in 2011, the One Cure initiative is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. The approach, known as comparative oncology, is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center at CSU in Colorado Springs.
“One Cure is our signature effort to try to cure cancer, both in pets and in people” said Rod Page, the director and professor of oncology at Colorado State’s college of veterinary medicine. “We’ve been working with Graham and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to raise the profile of the program and agenda of cancer research. It’s important to animals and people because they share so much in common.”
While the cause was the reason for Friday’s gathering, the star of the day was Arrow, who spent much of his time searching for the coolest spot in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan work area in the paddock, while receiving constant petting and adoration from the fans.
Rahal has more plans for his pup this weekend when it comes to the No. 15 One Cure Honda in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst.
“It would be awesome to win here in the One Cure car and have Arrow join us in victory lane,” he said.