When you think of the name Rahal, you likely think of racing, not dogs, and certainly not cancer research. It makes sense. Thanks to my dad, 1986 Indy 500 winner and three-time INDYCAR Champion Bobby Rahal, I grew up around race tracks. I got my first professional win when I was 16 years old in the Star Mazda series at Portland International Raceway and I’ve been chasing the checkered flag ever since. Even my wife, Courtney Force, grew up in a racing family and drives an NHRA Funny Car for a living. While my entire family loves racing, we share another, equally strong love for dogs. That love of dogs has also led me to become a champion for cancer research.
Growing up we had lots of retrievers – golden, flat coated, labs. Unfortunately, that also meant that I learned fairly early in my life that dogs could get cancer, retrievers being some of the most likely to get cancer. I’ve lost several amazing dogs to cancer, including my flat coated retriever, Farley. Cancer also runs in my human family. My mom’s twin sister is a cancer survivor. I don’t know that there’s anybody on this planet that hasn’t been impacted by cancer.
While I knew dogs could get cancer, what I didn’t really realize was how similar their cancers are to cancers in people. I also didn’t know all of the incredible treatment options available to help dogs like Farley until I met the people from Colorado State University’s One Cure program. The more I learned, the more I was impressed. It was clear to me that they are 1000% dedicated to not only providing the best treatments possible today, but also finding better treatments for tomorrow for both pets and people with cancer.
In February 2018, thanks to a generous benefactor who happens to love racing and hate cancer, I’ve been given the opportunity to partner with One Cure and help tell the world that pets get cancer just like people. As an animal lover and supporter of animal charities, and as a person who’s lost loved ones to cancer, I was beyond excited about this partnership. I knew that I could use my voice to bring more focus and energy to discovering ways to help find a cure to save the lives of our loved ones, both two-legged and four-legged.
Just two weeks before we announced our partnership with One Cure, we lost another family member to cancer, our labradoodle Bear. The timing wasn’t lost on me and further fueled my passion and connection to One Cure. I was proud to fly the One Cure colors in front of an international crowd of millions for the first time in April at the Phoenix Grand Prix, but I wanted to do more.
For the last seven years, my foundation has hosted a charity golf tournament in the week leading up to the Indianapolis 500. I started the Graham & Courtney Rahal Foundation to follow in the footsteps of my friend and former team owner, the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. I decided to donate the proceeds of the 2018 tournament to two charities, Turns for Troops and One Cure, and am proud to say that we were able to raise $100,000 for each organization. But that’s not the end. I’m committed to making a difference and hope to raise even more money next year to support One Cure’s research programs.
This weekend, I’ll be racing for One Cure at the Portland Grand Prix. I invite everyone to cheer on the #15 One Cure Honda as I race at Portland International Raceway.
For me, racing for a cure is personal. I don’t want to see anyone else I love go through cancer. But like many of you, I’m frustrated that this isn’t happening fast enough … and that’s tough when you live your life in the fast lane. To speed up a cure, it’s going to take all of us rallying together. I hope you’ll join me in supporting One Cure; we are far stronger as a group than we are individually. Please donate today, every dollar makes a difference!