Cure Duchenne. Those two words are what motivate 13-year-old Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series competitor Connor Pyle to be the best Legend Car driver he can be. Pyle uses his winnings from Charlotte Motor Speedway and other money he raises to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and hopefully save the life of his 5-year-old cousin, Chase, and other kids affected by the disease.

“Muscular dystrophy is one of the many different kinds of diseases that affect your muscles,” Pyle explained. “Duchenne is the worst kind and the one that I hold closest to my heart.  It is a disease that is only found in boys, and it usually affects one in every 3,500 boys.”

Pyle’s younger cousin is one of 300,000 boys in the world who are living with Duchenne. Most of them will be completely wheelchair-bound by the time they are 12 and sadly won’t live past their 20s. 

“Chase found out when he was about two, and now he’s five. So we’ve been raising money for him. He’s doing really well right now; he just got his wheelchair. So hopefully we can find a cure before it gets too bad,” said the Concord, N.C., resident.

Wanting to raise money for research into the disease and possible cures, Pyle figured he could do it in the best way that he knew how: racing. A portion of his winnings, as well as any additional money he raises, always goes to CureDuchenne, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness and funds to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

“I’ve always liked doing charity work, but when my cousin got diagnosed with Duchenne, it really hurt me.  So that’s when I started working toward raising awareness and doing everything that I can to collect money,” Pyle said.

Pyle has done everything from autograph signings, run-a-thons, TV interviews and anything else he can think of to get the word out about Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Pyle’s father Curtis said even before they had the idea to combine Connor’s racing career and the fight to cure Duchenne, Connor and his sisters were already on the case.

“It actually started when we were in Arizona,” said the elder Pyle. “He and his sisters would have slushie stands outside of our home and raise hundreds of dollars that they could donate.  And then when it came to the racing, we realized that we weren’t doing anything with that. So he asked, ‘Can we put stickers on the car?’”

Those stickers are now all over Connor’s orange and black Beattie Racing machine.  The CureDuchenne logo is boldly featured on the back and sides of his Young Lions Legend Car along with a picture of his 5-year-old cousin.

The good news is that new gene-based therapies that have proven to show positive strides in treating the disease are beginning to emerge, but it will take more money and research to continue the search for a cure.  Connor is devoted to helping find it.

“I’d like to get everyone involved,” Connor said of his efforts to cure Duchenne through racing. “I just want to get as many people as possible to know about it, think about it and hopefully go online and donate.”

The Young Lions Legend Car driver hopes that kids understand that it does not matter how old you are when it comes to making a difference in the world.

“You’re never too young to do anything,” Connor said adamantly.

To find out more information about Duchenne muscular dystrophy or make a donation, visit www.CureDuchenne.org.

The 19th annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series continues Tuesday, July 31, with Food Lion AutoFair Classic Car Night and a Car Club Twilight Cruise. In addition to the regular racing divisions, fans can watch as area car clubs take to the 1.5-mile superspeedway in their classic automobiles for a cruise under the lights.

Gates open at 5 p.m. with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Summer Shootout Series are $7 for adults and are available in advance at the speedway ticket office or at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Kids 13 and under get in free. The first 1,000 fans through the gates get a coupon for free fries from series sponsor Jack in the Box.

For tickets to the Summer Shootout Series, call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

For live updates during the Summer Shootout Series, follow hashtag #SummerShootout on Twitter. To join in on the conversation simply include #SummerShootout in your tweet.

Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.