Cancer can't keep Braden from driver's seat

COREY ROSSER
Last updated 05:00 28/06/2013
Braden Mason and Cam Vernon
NICK REED/Fairfax NZ

ON TRACK: Pro-am drift driver Cam Vernon, rear, has set up a drift car with hand controls so teenagers like Braden Mason with disabilities, can drive it.

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Eight years ago doctors gave him three months to live, but this week Braden Mason was continuing to defy the odds by learning to drive a drift car.

At six years of age Braden, who lives in Marlborough, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called ependemoma.

The condition is inoperable and has affected Braden's brain and spine to the point where he is no longer able to walk.

Driving a specially built drift car with hand controls, Braden, whose dream car is an orange Lamborghini, spent yesterday morning at the Hampton Downs racetrack in north Waikato learning to drift.

"It was real fun, doing the donuts was my favourite part," Braden said.

"It was quite easy to drive, but I could have gone faster."

Making the trip up with Braden were mum Heather and dad Ray who admitted to having mixed emotions about the day.

"It's neat that he is out there doing something like this, but at the same time we have to look at the things he has missed out on," Mason said.

"Things like this ... I'm speechless, he has certainly defied all the expectations."

The converted "drift for a cause" car is a Lexus IS400 and was the brain child of 2011/12 D1NZ National Pro Am Drifting champion Cam Vernon, who was initially approached by Braden's older brother, Michael.

"After Michael contacted me we got talking and he was saying it would be great for Braden and others with physical disabilities to learn how to drive," Vernon said.

"I have this habit where I just tend to jump at things.

"We found a car within 24 hours and we just made it happen."

The project was completed in just four weeks and so far has cost $5500.

Sponsors have turned out in numbers to help but Cam said he was happy to foot the bill in order to see Braden's dream become a reality.

"I was pretty chuffed, I'm a bit of a rural hardman but I was almost tearing up seeing his expression and how happy he was, it made my day."

It was a special occasion too for Michael, who had often discussed the idea of getting his brother a ride in a drift car.

"He had a massive grin and you couldn't keep him out of the car, it's awesome," he said.

While in Auckland Braden said he was also excited to meet his eight-week-old nephew for the first time.

The car will now be donated into the care of Gary Sterling, owner of Play Day on Track and manager of the Hampton Downs racetrack, and will be available for hire to the general public.

It is believed to be the first of its kind in New Zealand.

There is also a fundraising project for the cause which is being run by Vernon who is auctioning drift car experiences in his D1 pro spec drift car on Trade Me.

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- Waikato Times

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