RACING for heroes |

RACING for heroes

Adam Robertson
Tarron Graves, 15, races around the track for his first win.
Courtesy of Jason Graves |

Though he is only 6 years old, Tarron Graves is already doing things many don’t do in a lifetime — winning trophies as a top kart driver and spearheading a campaign to raise money to help veterans.

Tarron races in kid kart through the Northern Nevada Kart Club in Reno. He was last year’s champion, winning nine of 10 races last season and was named NNKC Junior Rookie of the Year. He also broke five of seven records and was selected to go to the national kid kart competition for 2016. However, he could not afford the trip and had to decline.

This year, the Graves family wants to ensure Tarron is able to go to competitions outside the Reno area. To achieve this, they are planning a fundraiser for the trips.

“I told him last year, ‘we’re going to do some fundraising and we’re going to make sure you can go to nationals this year,’” said Jason Graves, Tarron’s father.

Graves has been in touch with various businesses for sponsorships, but the fundraising has a secondary benefit as well. Tarron plans to donate money to the Veterans of Foreign Wars to help local veterans.

Graves, a veteran himself, said his son was inspired to donate after learning about the charitable work his racing hero, Joey Lagano, does for veterans. The decision was aided by Tarron learning about the rate of veteran suicides and seeing his father and grandfather’s experiences.

“He sees all the stuff I go through, going to VA appointments,” Graves said. “He told me last year that he would like to raise money for veterans.”

Graves said the core of their fundraising will be a spaghetti feed June 2 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Churchill County High School. He added they hope to print at least 200 tickets. At present, the plan is for tickets to cost $12 for adults and $6 for people 17 and under. Half of the proceeds will help Tarron travel to races, while the other half will be donated to the VFW.

“We’re trying to raise as much as we can and help the community’s veterans and continue racing,” Graves said.

Tarron also has his eyes set on California’s KPX races. Graves said the professional division race travels all over California and only the best are invited. This year KPX introduced a kid kart competition — Graves said their club’s president immediately thought of Tarron once the news came out.

“He might be the first, and only, to win a kid kart championship through the KPX, if they decide to continue doing this,” Graves said.

Graves said he hopes this will not be a one-time fundraiser. He said he would like to see this become an annual event to help local veterans.

He added anyone wanting to make a donation outside of the spaghetti feed could go to the VFW and let them know it’s a donation for Racing for Heroes. He also said checks should be made to JD Graves Racing.

“I want people to know there’s a 6-year-old kid who’s trying to accomplish something and he’s not just thinking about himself,” Graves said.