City News

Youths vroom in contest

Nineteen children in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Charlotte Chapter are racing for donations in hopes of getting a hot rod they designed on the race track.

Those in the Charlotte chapter are among hundreds nationwide participating in Ford Motor Co.'s Funny Car Design Contest. The winner gets a trip to the National Hot Rod Association's U.S. Nationals to meet driver Bob Tasca and see their design – the paint scheme – on a race car that will be raced all weekend.

Many Charlotte-area participants are in need of donations – fast. Ford will select a final winner from the top five designs that raise the highest amounts. The contest ends on July 31. Securing donations has been particularly hard for Charlotte chapter members because it held its “Walks to Cure Diabetes” in April.

“I've had to get people to dig deep,” said Jacqueline Nolan, whose 13-year-old son Alex is participating in the contest. “My child will jump through hoops for anything that involves sports, and he loves cars. He's very excited.”

Alex has raised the most money so far for the Charlotte chapter – more than $1,175. For his design to have a shot at being selected, Alex will have to be one of the top five in the nation. A 12-year-old in California is leading the race with almost $4,000.

Nicholas Brannan, 6, of Myers Park is also participating. Nicholas' car makes the connection between speed and his disease with the words “find a cure fast” written on the car. When asked why he entered, Nicholas quickly said, “To win.”

“He's so mature beyond his years when it comes to diabetes,” said his mother, Colleen Brannan, a new member of the JDRF Charlotte board of directors. “Every day, he asks me when they will find a cure and what he can do to help.”

The Charlotte chapter has already received $1,000 for its participation in the contest.

“This is a fun way for kids to raise money, and it will be exciting if a child from our chapter gets to see his design made,” said Brenning Johnston, outreach manager for the Charlotte chapter. “Anyone can go online to vote.”

To vote, visit and search for designs from the Charlotte chapter.