Wheels for Wellness and a cure: Fort Worth nonprofit supports cancer research at HSC 

Wheels For Wellness Check Presentation

Every September, thousands of car buffs pack Downtown Fort Worth to get an up-close look at hot rods, classic cars, restomods and one-of-a-kind first-responder vehicles. For some, a trip to this car show could save their lives. 

They come for the cars, but the event’s organizer, Wheels for Wellness Inc., has a larger goal in mind: to screen men for prostate cancer and raise money to fund cancer research at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.  

At the annual car shows, the nonprofit foundation provides free prostate specific antigen screenings to hundreds of North Texas men. Every year, some are alerted that they may have an elevated PSA level — a sign that they could need further testing for prostate cancer. 

“Each year we receive notice that three to five men have had their lives saved because they got a free PSA screening,” said Chuck Nixon, president of Wheels for Wellness. “When someone comes up to me and tells me that, I get cold chills. 

“To look someone in the eyes and have them look at you and tell you, ‘You guys saved my life,’ that’s very, very strong.” 

The annual screenings have a massive impact on the men who receive them, but the Wheels for Wellness Board of Directors also want their efforts to go beyond Fort Worth and Tarrant County. That’s why they donate a portion of their proceeds each year to fund research at HSC that could help lead to new treatments for prostate cancer. 

“From the very beginning, we wanted to support an organization that would search for a cure,” Nixon said.  

Since 2003, Wheels for Wellness, Inc. and a previous foundation with similar goals have donated more than $266,000 to help fund cancer research initiatives at HSC, including the research of Drs. Bruce Bunnell, chair and professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics, at HSC’s School of Biomedical Sciences, and Andras Lacko, emeritus professor. 

The team’s research explores using nanoparticles to deliver anti-cancer medications directly to cholesterol-hungry cancer cells while avoiding damage to healthy cells. Lacko, who recently retired, is still very connected to his work at HSC where research teams continue his cancer research project. 

While support from Wheels for Wellness continues to fund existing research projects, it also opens new opportunities for exploration and discoveries at HSC. 

Earlier this year, Wheels for Wellness delivered another $15,000 donation. 

“Donations such as this one from Wheels for Wellness drive new discoveries and will allow us to explore novel ideas for treatment of prostate cancer, such that we can get excellent preliminary findings for larger federal grant funding in the near future,” Bunnell said. 

As Wheels for Wellness gears up for its next car show on Sept. 16, Terry Mann, one of its founders, says funding those new discoveries remains a critical part of its mission.  

“It would not surprise me if the cure for prostate cancer comes out of The University of North Texas Health Science Center,” said Mann.  

“We are very proud of our relationship with Dr. Lacko, and now Dr. Bunnell and HSC.” 

Learn more about Wheels for Wellness at its website. 

Wheels For Wellness Car Show

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