Most people may not make a connection between a hot car and raising awareness of breast cancer. But in Dan Neve's case, there's a clear link between his Ford Shelby Mustang and thousands of dollars raised to support breast cancer awareness at Marshfield Clinic.
Dan Neve and his Shelby Mustang.
Neve's sister-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, followed by his mother in 2009 and his wife in early 2010. At about this same time, he was searching for a new car, an extra special and rare Shelby edition of the Mustang line he's admired for most of his life. He found a car – one of only 83 made with his black color preference and set of options – in Texas and completed delivery to his home south of Marshfield.
"I already had an idea to use this car to raise awareness for breast cancer," said Neve (pronounced "neev"). Among people who know cars, this baby's a head-turner. Its jet-black exterior is the perfect medium to highlight pink sponsorship logos. He's named the car "Hope" and together they've traveled across the country through an effort he's called "Cruise for a Cause."
It hasn't come easily. Neve first approached Ford dealers but received a lukewarm response. He then reached out to people he knew through his work as operations manager for Staab Construction of Marshfield, which specializes in constructing water and wastewater treatment facilities throughout the Midwest. A rare and souped-up Mustang putting out 540 horsepower was a perfect vehicle to gain attention, so he was able to secure logo placements all over the car.
"That was my start. We needed their logos in pink so they would stand out against the black car," he recalled. About that time, he got a call from a friend who runs a car event in Virginia, featuring test rides in Ford vehicles with professional drivers on a race course. Ford was willing to participate if Neve would run the test rides. He did so, and later got an invitation from Ford to be part of a display at the Experimental Aircraft Association's convention in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
"Things just started to snowball. I was invited to display at SEMA , a convention of auto accessory suppliers in Las Vegas, and word got around." He ended up at gatherings in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. In 2012, he worked with TLC Lettering in Pittsville, Wisconsin, to place a new flashy graphic design on the car, featuring not only pink for breast cancer but also blue to show support for patients with prostate cancer.
But his focus has remained on breast cancer screening at Marshfield Clinic, where his family members were all treated.
"We're all very thankful the Clinic is here and we want to do as much for it as we can," he said. "We've learned so much about cancer, identifying it early and helping a lot of women as well as men. But we really need to find a cure." When Neve was a child he knew kids with polio, which you don't hear about anymore; he'd like cancer to be just like that for his grandson's generation.
"You don't find a good cause; causes find you," he said, noting that he's put 32,000 miles on his car crisscrossing the country. "All the driving does get a little old but the biggest thing is meeting people. So many of them have questions about the car or are just thankful for what we're doing."
Neve has planned a weekend full of activities on October 4-6 at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells which will include a golf tournament, car show, special exhibits from Ford, a car cruise and a banquet.
"We're hopeful this will be something big to kickoff Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October," he said. While he'll still be traveling thousands of miles to events this year, "It may get to the point where a three-day event will have more of an impact on breast cancer awareness and finding a cure, which would be nice."
Those interested in contributing to Neve's cause may contact him at
www.cruise4acause.org or by calling 715-305-7986, or contact Marshfield Clinic's Development Department at 1-800-858-5220 or visit