SOUTH PLATTSBURGH - Chad Blair is back behind the wheel.
The 35-year-old Saranac man and Gouverneur native has returned to racing after a four-year hiatus and he's got a good reason - to honor his mother and help the American Cancer Society. Blair's mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in nearly a decade, prompting him to partner with longtime friend Wayne Porter to fight what has long been an incurable disease.
The two have been working together for the past six months to build a car for Blair to race at Airborne Speedway. The car - which was debuted at the track's May 1 opener - was built and painted pink to raise awareness of cancer and raise money for cancer research.
"When I found out my mom had cancer, I thought it was just the time to do it," Blair said of getting back into racing. "It made me think that you only live once and if you can do it, do it."
Blair, who owns High Voltage Fabrications, and Porter, who owns Precision Auto and Collision, have backed Blair's participation with their own businesses and gotten several other sponsors for the car as well. In addition, the two have helped coordinate various fundraising events featuring appearances with the car in the hopes of attracting more donations for cancer research.
"Wayne's really the driving force behind all the fundraisers," said Blair, who noted bottle and coin drives have been among the events. "It's really important for us to raise money [for the American Cancer Society] because I've got to believe that we're 10 to 15 years away from finding out what causes these cancers and finding a cure for them."
Blair said that's because he's already seen how far cancer treatments have come in the last 10 years.
"There are way more things that can be done for people who have cancer now than could before," he said. "So, any money we can raise for them for research and things like that will make a difference."
Ideally, the winnings Blair hopes to make from his races, when paired with donations received from other community events he's involved in, will make a major impact on other local fundraising efforts, he said.
"We're hoping to raise a lot of money for the Cancer Society by the end of the year," said Blair.
"I'd love for us to be able to raise $25,000 before end of the season," said Porter. "That's my personal goal."
The two feel that's an attainable goal based on how cancer is a common enemy for many people, said Porter.
"Cancer affects everybody. I lost my aunt to pancreatic cancer," he said. "And, what's worse is more and more younger people are even dying from it. We need to find a cure."
Precision Auto and Collision, located at 1438 Military Turnpike, will host a car wash this Saturday, May 22, as another event featuring Blair's increasingly popular pink race car. The event will be held from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., with the car on display until 1 p.m.
"If people want to stop by and sign the car in memory of someone who died of cancer or a survivor wants to sign the car, we'll have a pink pen ready for them," said Porter. "That way, Chad will be able to race around the track that night with their signatures on it."
For more information about this weekend's event or how to help Blair and Porter raise money for the American Cancer Society, call Porter at 314-1555.