Gatlinburg boy remembers aunt with derby car

Mar. 27, 2013 @ 11:41 PM

Nine-year-old Collin Crosby emerged a champion following the Boy Scout’s annual Pinewood Derby Race, tying for first in overall design and winning third place in the competition. Crosby said he was “pretty excited” about the awards. His mom, Angela Crosby, is most proud of the empathy her son displayed in choosing the theme and design of his car.

The third grader at Pi Beta Phi Elementary School suffers from severe ADHD and has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum. An honor student in Gary Ownby’s third grade class, Crosby is outgoing and clearly does not let his disability define him.

Collin originally planned to paint the car white, modeling it after Speed Racer’s Mach 5. But at the last minute, inspiration struck and a new plan emerged. Just days before the race, he came up with the idea to paint the car pink in memory of his aunt, Robyn Stewart, who passed away in 2004. Stewart lost her two-year battle with breast cancer at the age of 32.

Stewart died when Collin was still an infant. His mother says the family will always remember her as a compassionate, selfless person. Before Angela gave birth to Collin, Stewart offered to act as a surrogate for the Crosbys after Angela struggled with cariocarcinoma and an attempt at in-vitro fertilization that ended in miscarriage.

That was the plan until Stewart began experiencing severe back pain. Her cancer metastasized, wrapping around her spine. The Crosbys decided to give in vitro one more shot, and the result was Collin. Angela described her son as a giving person, in much the same way that she described his aunt.

Proud of her son, but concerned that others might taunt him about his car’s pink design, Angela asked how he would respond if other boys teased him. Undaunted, Collin replied, “I will just tell them the truth – that it’s pink because I support breast cancer awareness and I loved my Aunt Robyn.”

“We are so proud of him,” Angela continued. “It takes a big man to walk into an event for boys with a pink car.”

In addition to decorating the car in memory of his aunt, Crosby chose the design to honor his mother, who will participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk for breast cancer in Atlanta next spring.

For the race, Crosby retained the Mach 5 design as planned, but pink. He embellished the car with breast cancer awareness ribbons. On one side he painted “Real Men Love Pink.” On the other side was an important reminder: “Find the Cure.”

jfrye@themountainpress.com