19-Year-Old Cancer Patient Helps With Engine Swap at the National Corvette Museum


19-Year-Old Cancer Patient Helps With Engine Swap at the National Corvette Museum

Photo Credit: National Corvette Museum

Here’s a great story from the National Corvette Museum.

Darren Pickren is a 19 year-old college student studying mechanical engineering at Mercer University in Macon, GA. After graduating hopes to snag a job in the auto industry. In addition to being a Corvette nut like the rest of us, he is also a stellar student, having found a place on the President’s List. His mom, Amy, had even purchased a 1981 Corvette for him to work on in his spare time.

Unfortunately life doesn’t always go as planned as Darren was diagnosed with cancer not too long ago. It was earlier this year when Amy reached out to the NCM.

“Right before Christmas, his dreams of getting a degree and pursuing automotive engineering got put on hold with the diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

His prognosis is good, but this has been a real battle for him,” Amy wrote.

His mom knew about the Engine Build Experience offered through the Bowling Green Assembly Plant and inquired about the possibility of him participating in it. Since that program is reserved specifically for people who’ve ordered a Corvette, Darren wasn’t able to take part.

This where the National Corvette Museum stepped up and offered Darren the opportunity to help out in the Maintenance and Preservation area. Of course Amy took the NCM up on the offer and kept it a secret from Darren.

“I didn’t tell him a lot right in the beginning. I knew it was his dream. He’s always wanted to build high performance engines and he’s always loved Corvettes.” Amy said.

Amy and Darren traveled to the museum in early July. There they worked with Daniel Decker and together they swapped engines on a C6 Z06. Slowly, but surely, they stripped down the car, removed the old engine, and dropped in the new one.

“It has brightened his days going through the chemo. He has a smile on his face all the time.” Amy said.

She continued “the visit was an experience of a lifetime and a dream come true. “He has been on cloud nine since we came home. It means so much to me to see his spirits lifted this way.”

19 Year Old Cancer Patient Helps Out During Engine Swap at the National Corvette Museum

Amy, Daniel Decker (NCM Maintenance & Preservation) and Darren pull apart a Z06 engine. Photo courtesy of National Corvette Museum

They’re back home now and Darren received his last chemo treatment on July 12th. Everyone is hoping for positive results going forward.

“He is excited to be able to go back to school soon and share his memories of the Corvette Museum. He sincerely has a new outlook on life and is thrilled about the prospects the automotive world has to offer,” noted Amy.

We’ve always considered the Corvette Museum to be a special place and this story is just another example of why we feel that way. Sometimes it about more than just the cars. It’s about the people you meet and how a museum in Kentucky can have a huge influence on someone’s life.

National Corvette Museum

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