Robert Kinsey Sr. is hoping a March 25 fundraiser at Dover Downs will “Harness the Cure” for cancer. Horse racing begins at 1 p.m., and the track walk fundraiser will start after the last race at about 5:30 p.m.
A former horse trainer and record-setting harness racing driver, Kinsey lives on his family’s farm near Clayton. He won close to 900 races in his career and set several records including winning the first four races on the same card.
About 12 years ago, a diagnosis of a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) started the race of his life.
“It put me out of commission for five years,” Kinsey said. “I hardly left the house. I lost two-thirds of my stomach. I couldn’t eat much. I threw up just about every day for five years after the first treatment. I’m lucky to be alive. They only gave me two years to live.”
His first surgery was in 2000 and he’s had four more surgeries since then along with nearly a dozen other medical procedures. He’s also tried a variety of cancer drugs, even agreeing to participate in trials for experimental drugs not yet approved for the public.
“My cancer is rare, but the makeup is simple,” said Kinsey. “It’s going to be relatively easy to get the four or five components stopped. Once they figure that out, it should be easier to find what works on more complicated forms of cancer.”
The “Harness the Cure” event he’s organizing has a purple and gold theme, which were Kinsey’s racing colors and also the colors -- believe it or not -- of the graduation gowns his Class of 1972 wore at Smyrna High where the colors are red and white.
“Purple and gold, that's what we wanted. We were a rowdy bunch,” said Kinsey with a smile.
Now, the purple and gold have a much more serious meaning.
“Purple is the color of my cancer, and when it happens in children, it’s usually a gold color,” Kinsey said.
At the event, the harness drivers will be donating a portion of their purses and driving percentages to Life Raft, a nonprofit GIST fundraising group.
“They’re a great group,” said Kinsey. “They’ve saved my life more than once.”
After the races, the public can get involved by making a donation to walk the 5/8-mile horse track, and if possible, collecting pledges from sponsors beforehand for the walk.
“All we ask is one lap, but if you want to walk more, you can,” said Kinsey.
People who want to participate can just attend the event March 25, ready to walk at 5:30 p.m. For more information, email Kinsey at email@example.com or call (302) 270-9358.