Ben & Michael’s Introduction into the Racing World
Ben and Michael Kavich are brothers and race car drivers, who are asking you to support lifesaving breast cancer trials research by donating to Race for a Cure. Race for a Cure was founded by Ben’s wife, Toula, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer following the Bathurst 6 Hour in 2016. Toula’s disease shocked the Kavich family who had already lived through the harrowing impact of breast cancer after Ben and Michael’s grandmother and mother were diagnosed.
Having had their lives disrupted too many times by this insidious disease, the brothers wanted to use their passion for motorsport to help spare as many families as possible from the heartache and loss caused by breast cancer.
We asked the brothers to explain a bit about their introduction into the racing world.
“Our father raced when we were younger touring cars, basically against the likes of Dick Johnson and Peter Brock and in that era, mostly local Sydney stuff, a little track called Amaroo Park, not far from where we’re sitting now,” Ben said.
“But his main focus was the Bathurst 1000 which he competed in from about 1982 I think it was, to 1988 and various other forms of motor racing.”
“So yeah, that was our introduction to it as kids at about ten.”
“Obviously through dad’s business we grew up on a bit of property too. So he would bring old wreck cars home and we would tinker with those cars and we would use them on the property that we had. They were probably actually called paddy bashers,” Michael said.
“That was our introduction and our formal training in terms of how to drive and things like that. I think we were no more than probably eight and ten or something. So we developed obviously a love for the sport from viewing our father race and obviously meeting the likes of those heroes of that era as Ben mentioned, Peter Brock and Dick Johnson.”
“So that’s who we looked up to, and our rooms were plastered with posters of race cars everywhere.
“And at the time when dad was competing, the people looking after his car was the team that Allan Grice was involved in. So Alan Grice became a bit of a hero as we spent time as children at the tracks following all those people around, but he was a very cool guy,” Ben said.
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Race for a Cure was founded by Ben’s wife, Toula, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer following the Bathurst 6 Hour in 2016. Toula’s disease shocked the Kavich family and now the brothers are using their passion for motorsport to help spare as many families as possible from the heartache and loss caused by breast cancer.
A Breast Cancer Diagnosis Close to Home
Ben and Michael started Race for a Cure, after receiving the devastating news that Ben’s wife Toula had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“So essentially, we had competed in the 2016 6-Hour I think was the first one we did. A couple weeks after that my wife was getting checks done and that had been happening for a few months prior, and she was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer,” Ben said.
“So that threw us for six pretty much at the time. The proceeding sort of 11 to 12 months up to the next 6-Hour was pretty hard.”
“But you know, at different times we’d sit down and try to talk about different things and do different things to deal with the situation. Toula my wife came up with the idea of Race for a Cure when we were sort of, talking about the about the 6-Hour that we were going to do again.”
“And I said, you know, we’d like to do something that is a bit different and helps the community and she came up with that idea basically.”
“She’s very creative, her marketing background kicked in didn’t it? She’s always been like that. She’s has a real flair for it,” Michael said.
“Yes, so that’s where the idea came up and we approached Breast Cancer Trials to see if they would jump on board, which they have been very supportive all the way through and yeah, that’s how it initially started,” Ben said.
“We have a daughter who’s now turning nine this week, and she was not far from her third birthday at that point so, you know, we had a young family, it was it was terrifying.”
The Importance of Supportive Family & Friends
Ben’s wife, Toula was diagnosed on ANZAC weekend of 2016 and he describes the shock that they felt after receiving this devastating news.
“There was a massive shock, it was really difficult to deal with.”
“Looking back on it now, it’s a difficult situation to deal with because you don’t know anything about it. So we focus on obviously raising money and awareness for Breast Cancer Trials and the work they do and their supporters do to support people going through it as well.”
“And that’s very important because when you don’t know where you’re going, it can be very scary, but when you get that comfort that you’ve got people around you to help you, it becomes a bit easier to deal with and that’s what’s happened,” Ben said.
“So, the initial feeling is the feeling of helplessness and as a partner to my wife and brother to Ben and brother-in-law to Toula. You just try and be supportive, try and be there for them, that’s all you can sort of do. But we’re thankful that we have people doing such good work with the Breast Cancer Trials.”
Unfortunately for Ben and Michael, this is not their first encounter with breast cancer. They’ve watched their mother and grandmother also battle the insidious disease.
“Yeah, obviously, I mean, grandmother was diagnosed first you know, and then seeing obviously mum and Toula, and actually my mother-in-law as well, she resides in the UK, but obviously seeing my wife and what she had to go through. You feel helpless as a partner, as a son, a grandson, you’re not sure what to do,” Michael said.
We’re lucky that it was Ben and Toula and obviously their initiative with Race for a Cure, that put us on to Breast Cancer Trials.”
“And I might add, that treating oncologist Professor Fran Boyle has been a massive part of obviously of what we’ve been going through, you know, and initially that’s how we heard about Breast Cancer Trials was through her involvement,” Ben said.
“And going back to your question about how you deal with it and how does it feel, the work that BCT does, but also the work that she’s put in and the help we get from her is massive too.”
“The reason we chose Breast Cancer Trials is because that’s what they do, they help develop those drugs and those treatments too, for better outcomes on a daily basis and for the future, so for me it was a no brainer to support them.”
Ben & Michael’s Hope For The Future
Since starting Race for a Cure, the brothers have raised close to $130,000 for Breast Cancer Trials and they agreed that the support they continue to receive is more than they ever imagined.
“When it was first launched in 2017, we had a majority of the support come from our business suppliers and the support was more than I expected and so was the support from the public, even at the track. Then the ongoing support from both the public and our suppliers and our employees and corporate Australia and in particular Yellow Pages has been far more than I thought,” Ben said.
“There’s another level, I think we could take this to long term, particularly the corporate world that I think could provide even more support, it’s just a matter of trying to balance the family life with the business life and everything else that becomes difficult, but I am surprised at how much support it’s received and thankful for it.”
“But I think after the experience we’ve probably both had, you’d agree Michael that there’s probably more to come.”
“I think so, yeah, there’s obviously, even just within the motorsport community, we’ve had a lot of support from people, other competitors, and I think motorsport is, when you talk with sporting arenas, the community itself is a very, very close community, everyone knows one another and knows someone who knows someone,” Michael said.
“And BCT also because people forget in the background, they’re doing a lot of work on PR and getting the message out there that it’s happening, and running donation pages and all that works there’s, that’s work that they put in has a cost for them. So, you know, the more support they get, the easier it is for them to cope with those costs,” Ben said.
“Yeah, and obviously Kate this year, she was up at Bathurst with us, and she just did a great job for us, it was amazing, and it was great to have her on board and the amount of work that she put in and all the girls back at BCT HQ, it’s great,” Michael said.
“Yeah, it’s a united affair basically,” Ben said.