Meet Devyn Casey, a 13-year-old Wilton girl who is turning her love of the TV show The Amazing Race into an amazing fundraiser to fight lung cancer. She has organized an event called the Amazing Race to Find a Cure, which will be held as a race around Wilton on Saturday, Aug. 29 and styled after the TV show. Teams can register and pay a $40 entrance to race around town following clues and completing challenges that the Casey family has created.
“This came from my grandfather, who passed away, I decided to do this race in his memory to help support the fight against lung cancer,” the Middlebrook 8th grader says. Devyn’s grandfather, Jack ‘Papa’ Casey, with whom she’s pictured above, passed away two years ago.
The idea grew out of the way Devyn celebrated her 13th birthday party in June. She and her friends are big fans of the hit CBS reality competition show The Amazing Race, and she first cooked up the idea to have the show as the theme. She and her friends formed three teams of 5-6 kids each (plus one grown-up driver per team) and they raced around Wilton following clues and challenges her parents had created.
“For instance, a clue was: Give your taste buds a new sensation, you don’t need to go to China to reach your next destination. Once we got to Hunan Cafe, we got a challenge: eat either fried squid, an eel roll or seaweed salad,” she recalls.
They all had so much fun they wanted to repeat the experience. “My mom said I should do it and create awareness. At first I thought whoever the winner was could pick out the cause, but I really wanted to do something about lung cancer,” Devyn explains.
Devyn is in charge of promoting the race and recruiting participants, which she has done through the website and via an Instagram account. Her parents, Kerry and Jayme Casey, are creating the clues and plotting the race course. They estimate the race will take about 1-2 hours, and depending on how many people sign up there may be a pizza party afterward.
All the money raised by the race will be donated toward lung cancer research being done by Dr. Lecia Sequist, the Massachusetts-General Hospital doctor who took care of Devyn’s grandfather, Jack. As she writes on the website she created to promote the race, “Without the wonderful doctors at MGH, my Papa would not have lived as long as he did and would not have shared the amazing bond that my family and I had with him. I am hoping that the Amazing Race to Find a Cure will help other people like my grandfather beat this terrible disease.”
“I was really impressed with her,” says Devyn’s mom, Kerry. “She is very compassionate and caring, and this was so touching⎯and just so clever. She’s taking a young audience and exposing them to something that’s personal to her and a good cause, and actually creating something fun around it. I thought it was so creative, and it’s been neat watching her evolve.”
As of now there are about 20-30 people who are registered, and Devyn is hoping that more people and teams will register between now and Aug. 29 to compete. “We also need volunteers to be station managers–they wait at the places and give the teams the challenges after they complete the clues,” she says.
The race course will be well-planned by the Caseys, says Kerry, and will be set up with an eye to making sure participants are safe. “I don’t want these kids running through parking lots or wreaking havoc, so it’s pretty contained. It’s all in town and surrounding the town.”
Devyn has a goal to raise around $400, or recruit 10 teams, and if it’s successful she even hopes to make it an annual event. Kerry says that it’s a fun way to kick off the school year, and also an amazing lesson for all the kids about how to help others. “She would feel really good about trying to make a difference.”