Casey Elliott, son of race car engine-builder Ernie Elliott and nephew to NASCAR celebrity Bill Elliott, had the family racing genes and a promising career in car racing ahead of him.
With the talent of his uncle and the master machine under the hood built by his father, Casey Elliott was expected to take the sport of NASCAR to a whole different level.
Unfortunately, the young and aspiring driver’s dream was cut short when he lost his battle with cancer and passed away Jan. 14, 1996.
“He was so brave,” said his mother, Shelia Elliott. “He never told you how bad it was or how much he was hurting.”
The second child of Ernie and Shelia, Casey was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma at the age of 19, and passed away at the age of 21, just a month shy of his 22nd birthday.
Synovial sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that mostly occurs in young adults and affects the soft tissue near joints in the arms or legs.
“When he showed me a lump he had in his leg in November 1993, we took him to the doctor, they took a biopsy and thats how we found out it was cancer,” Shelia said.
Since losing their son, Ernie and Shelia Elliott have been the presenting sponsors of Dawson County’s Relay for Life for the past 10 years.
The family is the presenting sponsor again this year.
“We have been donating to this cause since Casey died because we want to honor him and the person he was, as well as contribute to research for cancer,” Shelia said.
Suzanne Hendricks, community manager for Dawson County’s Relay for Life, said: “The Elliott family is a wonderful group of people who have donated much time and money to this cause. They are very much appreciated and we are proud to have them as our presenting sponsor again this year.”
According to Hendricks, the presenting sponsor is one who donates at least $2,500 or more to the event.
1997 was the first year in which Dawson County held a Relay for Life event, and since then the Elliott family has been participating whether through donations, putting together a team, or both.
Julie Hamby, Casey Elliott’s older sister, said her brother was a special person.
“He was so laid back, easy going and was friends with everybody,” said Hamby. “Relay for Life is a really good event that gets the community together to raise money for a good cause, that is especially important to us.”
With high hopes for their son, Ernie and Shelia sought medical care from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, shortly after Casey’s diagnosis.
Once the family arrived in Houston, the cancer was in the bones of Casey’s right knee and left hip.
According to Shelia, her son received 13 rounds of chemotherapy at the strongest level available at the time.
“It was after the 13th round that he could no longer receive the chemotherapy treatments because it was too strong,” Shelia said.
Although his time on Earth was short, family members and friends of the Elliotts say that Casey Elliott had a great personality and was someone that everyone loved.
Looking back, Shelia believes that her son’s purpose on Earth was to touch people and show strength and faith.
“His spirit was so sweet and he was so brave. I wish everybody could have known him, heaven’s presence was with him,” she said.
This year marks the 12th year of Dawson County’s Relay for Life event, which will be held at Dawson County High School from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on May 8-9.
For more information about Relay for Life, contact Hendricks at (770) 297-1176.
E-mail Elizabeth Hamilton at email@example.com.