Timmy Tyrrell celebrated his 10th birthday today, and he’s not counting how many gifts he received for himself but counting the money he’s raised for families dealing with pediatric cancer — over a quarter million dollars since he was six years old.

For three years this extraordinary boy from Virginia has planned an annual charity kickball tournament in September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. His latest event, a tournament in Manassas on Sunday collected donations of $29,000 and his friend, NASCAR king Jeff Gordon, is matching that, dollar for dollar.

When he was just six his friend Ella was diagnosed with cancer and he overheard adults saying that her father was losing time at work due to the illness and bills were mounting. Timmy, who goes by the name “Mini”, decided he could raise money for their family with his favorite hobby, racing go-carts. He started his charity Mini’s Mission, with the slogan “Burn Rubber to Help Another,” in March 2011.

His father, Timmy Tyrrell, Sr., who holds car racing records himself and owns an auto repair shop and used car showroom in Manassas, delights in his son’s charity work.

“My wife Tina spends all her time helping him enact new ideas about how to help people,” he said. “Like the tsunami in Asia: Even after I suggested there was nothing we could do, he insisted that we had to help.”

Hanging out with Jeff Gordon at the race track

At six years-old, Mini’s story as reported by NBC Nightly News so impressed Jeff Gordon that, not only did the NASCAR driver donate to Mini’s charity events, and take him into the pits to inspect race cars close-up, the charismatic kid was hired to work with the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer.

“He’s not only inspiring adults. He’s also inspiring young kids,” said his mom.

He won $70 at the race track in a kids event and she asked him, ‘What are you going to do with it.’

“Duh, mom… I’m going to give it to the kids with cancer.”

Another little boy, a regular on the racing circuit heard him, went home, and brought back $50 the next week, saying, “I want to donate this to your charity.”

The quarter million dollars has been raised through a conglomeration of events, from the car racing to lemonade stands, from 5K walks to the kick ball tournaments that support the Kick It campaign. Gordon introduced Mini to the Kick It campaign, founded by a 10-year old Ohio boy during his second battle with cancer, which has raised more than $2.5 million through community Kick Ball events nationwide.

Mini, with Timmy and Tina Tyrrell
Mini, with Timmy and Tina Tyrrell

“Never in our wildest imagination, could we have predicted what Mini would accomplish in just three years,” said his proud mom, Tina.

As a racer, Mini is the youngest winner in Arena Car Race History, at 8, and the youngest driver, at 9, to compete in a Late Model Stock Car race, in Virginia earlier this year.

This self-possessed young man who has given speeches, talked to car clubs, and lately is persuading his local government to adopt gold ribbons for Children’s Cancer Month says he doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up — even though he has become a celebrity on the racing circuit as the youngest driver, at nine, to ever place in a late model stock car race.

He either wants to be a trash man, recycling valuable metals and materials, or a doctor so he can help more people. You can join him on Facebook at MinisMission.


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