Georgetown Prep Grad Raises $200,000 for NIH Cancer Research with Souped-Up Sports Car

Andrew Lee was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer when he was 19


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Andrew Lee, left, with University of Maryland Basketball Coach Mark Turgeon standing in front of the Driven to Cure Nissan GTR

Kensington’s Andrew Lee has turned his passion for cars into a fundraising machine to fight the rare form of cancer he’s battling.

The 21-year-old Georgetown Prep High School graduate was diagnosed with stage 4 HLRCC kidney cancer when he was 19.  He began treatment and was enrolled in a trial program at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, where he is the youngest person in the program.

At the same time, with the help of his family, he pursued his dream.

“I’m a big car guy,” Lee said Wednesday, while undergoing a treatment session at NIH. “When my dad and I found out about the cancer, we decided to go out and get the dream car.”

The dream car is a Nissan GTR—a high-end sports car that retails for more than $100,000 and boasts more than 500 horsepower. And after Lee was done upgrading it—he added aftermarket parts, gave it a wide-body and painted it bright orange (the color of kidney cancer awareness)—the car had more than 700 horsepower and featured the license plate “F CANCR.”

Lee and others with the Nissan GTR at the SEMA Show in 2016. Credit: Driven to Cure on Facebook

Lee began taking it to local car shows and soon he was raising money for cancer research from the other car guys and automotive companies who frequent the shows. He called his new nonprofit Driven to Cure. None of the money he raises showing the car is used to pay for vehicle costs such as maintenance or enhancements, according to the nonprofit’s website.

“It’s been a blast going to these events and meeting so many people,” Lee said. “I’m kind of living out my dream.” Most recently, he brought his car to the 2016 SEMA Show in Las Vegas—one of the largest aftermarket car events in the world.

“It’s bigger than you can imagine,” Lee said. “For four days I walked around the show the entire time and I couldn’t see it all.”

He’s also raising a significant amount of money for cancer research. On Wednesday, he dropped off $200,000 to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). The donation is being used to support the kidney cancer research of Dr. W. Marston Linehan, the chief of urologic surgery at the National Cancer Institute.

Andrew Lee presents a check to FNIH worth $200,000 at a ceremony Wednesday. Credit: FNIH

“We are truly grateful for the generous donation from Driven to Cure,” FNIH President and Executive Director Maria Freire, PH.D., said Wednesday. “Andrew’s story and drive to raise awareness and funding for cancer research is remarkable and can be transforming.”

Lee said the outpouring of support from individuals and companies such as Eagle Bank and BASF Automotive—who sponsored his car at the SEMA show—has been tremendous. He also accepts donations on the Driven to Cure website.

“I thought people would kind of latch on to the idea, but I’ve been blown away with the success and how much people have wanted to help out and make donations,” Lee said. “They say they appreciate what we’re doing. It’s been awesome.”

Lee said having the car also gives him the opportunity to reflect and escape.

“It’s kind of my place where I can go and kind of forget about everything else and enjoy the car,” said Lee, who is planning which events he will attend next year. “I can drive that car all day, every day and be happy and smile the entire time.”

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