Celebrity-designed hot rod auctioned by Barrett-Jackson benefits TGen cancer research

'Rat rod' will raise awareness and cancer research funds at Barrett-Jackson events nationwide in 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Jan. 17, 2017 - A "Cancer Car" hot rod, honoring a 2-year-old boy with kidney cancer and made famous by a Discovery Channel reality star, will be auctioned by the Barrett-Jackson Auction Co. to fund cancer research at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

As much art as it is race-worthy, creator Steve Darnell - owner of car shop WelderUp and star of the reality TV show Vegas Rat Rods - forged this car in the spirit of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's 1960s Rat Fink designs.

"It's ugly. It's meant to be ugly, because that is how cancer presents itself. It's brutal," said Darnell of the 1931 Ford, much of it covered in a rusty patina. Incorporated into the design are 10-dozen metal roses surrounding a 392-cubic-inch Hemi engine from a 1957 Dodge.

Known as the Cancer Car, this vehicle portrays from front to rear the hopeful journey of a cancer patient as you move through the car's form - evolving from the black dead cancer roses of diagnosis, to the fresh living red blooms of recovery.

In fact, the day the Cancer Car was first shown to the family of 2-year-old Preston Giamanco, diagnosed last year with kidney cancer, was the same day the family learned that the Las Vegas boy no longer showed any sign of the disease.

"He's doing pretty good. We are definitely blessed," said Joe Giamanco, Preston's father and shop manager of WelderUp. "It just blew us away," Joe Giamanco said of the Cancer Car the first time his family saw the completed craft.

TGen will display the Cancer Car at its booth during the 46th annual Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Jan. 14-22 at WestWorld of Scottsdale.  

This rat rod - a vehicle made of scrap parts from multiple cars - also will be displayed at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Palm Beach, Fla., April 6-8, before being sold to benefit TGen - a nonprofit biomedical research center - at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Las Vegas, Oct. 19-21.

"Given its history and back story, this is a most-appropriate car to auction and raise funds for TGen's important cancer research," said Craig Jackson, auction Chairman and CEO, who in 2010 established the Barrett-Jackson Cancer Research Fund at TGen. The fund is a salute to Craig Jackson's father, Russ, and brother, Brian, whose lives were cut short by cancer.

"We are so excited to see one of our favorite creations being used to raise awareness and provide cancer research dollars," said Steve Darnell, the founder of WelderUp, the car customization shop that brings junk back to life, one car at a time, for the Vegas Rat Rods show, which begins its third season in 2017.

"We initially crafted this car to honor our shop manager's son, Preston, who is battling kidney cancer. It has been a humbling experience. This car is now for everyone fighting cancer. I could not have hoped for a better use than to help fund cancer breakthroughs at TGen," said Darnell, who's shop specializes crafting rat rods from a hodgepodge of other vehicles, which are cut, chopped and dropped to ultralow ride heights with little chrome, and often with a lot of rust. The shop has created dozens of rat rods since Darnell's show debuted in 2014.

"We at WelderUp decided to build a car that represents the fight against cancer. I can only imagine the process that people must go through. Our hearts here at WelderUp go out to all of you that are fighting this terrible disease," Darnell said.

During the last seven years, Barrett-Jackson has donated numerous cars for auction to benefit TGen, and has raised nearly $2 million for TGen's cancer research. Total giving for all charitable causes by Barrett-Jackson over the years tops $90 million.

"We are extremely grateful to Craig Jackson, Steve Darnell and their crews for helping us raise essential research funds for TGen," said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation. "Their donation will not only advance important research, it will bring hope and answers to patients and their families.''

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About TGen
Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) is a Phoenix, Arizona-based non-profit organization dedicated to conducting groundbreaking research with life changing results. TGen is focused on helping patients with neurological disorders, cancer, and diabetes, through cutting edge translational research (the process of rapidly moving research towards patient benefit).  TGen physicians and scientists work to unravel the genetic components of both common and rare complex diseases in adults and children. Working with collaborators in the scientific and medical communities literally worldwide, TGen makes a substantial contribution to help our patients through efficiency and effectiveness of the translational process. TGen is allied with City of Hope, a world-renowned independent research and cancer and diabetes treatment center. This precision medicine alliance enables both institutes to complement each other in research and patient care, with City of Hope providing a significant clinical setting to advance scientific discoveries made by TGen. For more information, visit: www.tgen.org. Follow TGen on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter @TGen.

Media Contact:
Steve Yozwiak
TGen Senior Science Writer
602-343-8704
syozwiak@tgen.org

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