Firefighter and paramedic Michael Lundeen has spent his career helping people during scary and difficult moments.
For Michael, one of his most difficult moments was losing his close friend, David Sneed, to cancer. Six months after complaining of pain under his arm while playing golf, David passed away from lymphoma at the age of 27.
“That loss really woke me up. He was too young,” Michael says. “Somehow, in my mind, I thought this would be a long fight. And it shocked the heck out of me when he was gone.”
The loss of his childhood friend spurred Michael to start racing go-karts as a hobby, since he and David were both big NASCAR fans. That hobby morphed into MDL Motorsports and has since become a way to honor his friend. Team Lundeen, the charitable division of MDL Motorsports, is committed to supporting Oregon Cancer Foundation. OCF provides stopgap financial assistance to patients undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County.
These aren’t your average go-karts. These can go from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds, reaching speeds up to 120 mph.
“Basically, the kart has a motorcycle engine that’s been modified,” Michael says. “It’s an adrenaline rush, but the thing I like about it is the process: preparing the kart, putting everything together and meeting people.”
Meeting people is how Michael spreads awareness about Oregon Cancer Foundation. People often see the OCF logo on his cart and ask questions. He also talks about the Foundation in post race interviews and every other chance he gets, being sure to mention the two most important reasons he believes in the Foundation’s work.
“One: It’s local. And two: 100 percent of the money raised goes to people undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County,” Michael says. “They help people on a very personal level, during a difficult time.”
The other half of Team Lundeen is Michael’s biggest supporter, his wife Cindy. She helps behind the scenes with logistics, like managing the MDL Motorsports website and social media, offering advice and input and spreading the message about OCF to help raise funds.
“This effort has grown organically from Michael’s love of racing into community awareness. It’s allowed him to do something that means a lot to him,” Cindy says.
The couple started a FirstGiving fundraising page with a goal of raising $1,000 for OCF.
David Sneed was known for his generosity and willingness to help others, and there’s no doubt in Michael’s mind that David would be proud of what he’s doing to help people going through cancer.
“In the end, it’s not about making a profit or trophies or anything that you do for yourself,” Michael says. “It’s about the message and the cause. This is going to have a major impact on people’s lives, and there’s a lot of value in that.”