Cancer patients ride in style, meet Gov. Perry


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalists J.P. HARRINGTON

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 12 at 7:25 PM

AUSTIN -- Seeing nice cars drive down Congress Avenue is nothing new, but it's not everyday that you see Lamborghinis, Ferraris and even the Batmobile driving through downtown.

That was the case Wednesday afternoon for the 24th Annual Sunshine Kids Cruise to the Capitol.

The sporty rides, driven by volunteers from various car clubs and dealerships, traveled from San Marcos to Austin, each with a special passenger -- 24 teenagers, all fighting cancer.

For one day the got to forget about their illnesses and, as Levi Dybdal said, feel "like a rock star." The 14-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska was diagnosed with leukemia in the second grade.

"I didn't know what that meant because, I didn't even know how to pronounce it at first. I was like, 'lu, lu-what?'" Dybdal said. "My mom short-term explained it to me -- You have cancer. There's a possibility that you could die. I was sitting in the backseat just kind of whimpering and crying."

The same diagnose came to 14-year-old Dominic Dybala, who lives near Houston, two years ago.

"Some people might panic and think 'What's going on?' but for me, it just seemed like the next step," said Dybala.

Going through chemotherapy treatments, the teens missed out on a lot.

"When you're in the hospital, life goes on outside of the hospital, but you don't feel that way, and you feel like you should just go out and resume where you left off, but they left without you," Dybdal explained. 

Wednesday, they caught up. After the ride, the teens and some of their nurses went on a tour of the Capitol. Then came the icing on the cake -- meeting Governor Rick Perry.

After receiving a Sunshine Kids pin and posing for a picture, Perry traded in his blazer for a T-shirt and shared some words of wisdom.

"Life is all about second chances. Or third. Or fourth," said Perry. "Don't get so disappointed that you quit."

But the organizers and the kids both agreed the best part of the trip was not the fancy car rides or even meeting the governor; it was the chance for the cancer patients to meet and encourage one another.

"It sort of strengthens me to know that I'm not alone, and I think that it helps that I'm strengthening them, letting them know that they're not alone," said Dybala.

"It just shows that people look out and people care," added Dybdal. 

People care to help them win the fight of their young lives.