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Recently, Country Music singer/ songwriter/actor Mark Collie hosted his Seventh annual rip-roaring, "no holds barred," blow-out Race for a Diabetes Cure at the Nashville Speedway USA.

The increasingly successful celebrity event tempts a star-studded list of Nascar drivers, including Harry Gant and Bobby Hamilton, to suit up and hit the road for a good cause."Anyone who's been around this event knows that it's not a golf tournament and it's not bowling, and you can get more than a blister from doing it. It takes a lot of courage, a lot of guts. When the phones started ringing the first year, I don't think any manager or any record label was too thrilled about it," said Collie. Actor Mickey Jones, a bit hesitant as well, shook his head and repeated, "I don't want to crash at all, I just don't want to. We'll see if I can get through this year. If I can do it without crashing, I'd certainly do it again." Returning Champ Kix Brooks advised the stars, "the first corner of the race is not where you win. If everybody will just chill and get through the first corner, we'll be okay."

Luckily, Jones, as well as drivers like Ronnie Dunn, Chad Brock, Deanna Carter, Miss America Nicole Johnson, and Olympic Medallist Bart Conner heeded the advice and successfully avoided any serious speedway skirmishes.

Collie, first diagnosed with diabetes at age sixteen, has been working to raise awareness and, eventually, a cure for diabetes for some time. "It's kind of been a quiet killer that I felt we needed to do something about to raise some awareness," said Collie. His efforts have been extremely productive. Each year, a growing number of artists and celebrities return to the smoky motor track to race the miniature Legend cars. Yet, the friendly competitiveness has increased as well. Many of the participants had similarly personal reasons for coming out to the track. Second time participant Singer/ Songwriter Danni Leigh explained that "in my road band, one of my guitar players is a diabetic and he also has to give himself shots. So, I'm basically out here for him."

Mickey Jones exclaimed that "I'm diabetic and what I see Vanderbilt and drug manufacturer Eli Lilly doing just really makes my heart swell up. As adults, it's easier for us to deal with; as children, it's something else. So, if we can do something for those kids, it'll return something to us." The disease, which is the seventh leading cause of death, affects sixteen million Americans in the United States and accounts for thirty percent of Medicare spending . Eli Lilly acted as presenting sponsor of the race, laboring with Collie and countless others to raise the $300,000 needed to fund a research chair at Vanderbilt University. Happily, with the success of this year's race, to goal has been reached.

The overall Celebrity race winner, Lonestar's Dean Sams explained , "definitely the biggest thing that comes out ofthis is that we are out here for Mark Collie and the fight for diabetes. This is my fourth or fifth year; I love it, and it's fun to get out there and go fast!

For more information contact Gurley & Company 615/269-0474 or e-mail gurleyandco@aol.com.

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 10 - September 9562
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