SPOKANE, Wash. — Gabe Tesch is a pretty normal 19-year-old. He likes hanging with his friends and family, eating Mexican food, and snowmobiling. That is, when he's not traveling around the world as a Formula Four race car driver.
"When I put on my gear and stuff and like getting the go-kart, everything from the outside world kind of goes away," Gabe said. "So it's kind of my happy place."
Gabe began his dream of being a professional driver when he was 13 years old. It may sound young, but most drivers start when they're 6 or 7 years old.
"My first race ever, I got dead last, like I was so slow," Gabe said. "My second race I crashed. And then after that, I won six races in a row."
It takes a lot of time and money to try and move up the racing ranks, but it's something that Gabe's parents fully support.
"Just seeing him on the track and knowing where we were versus where he is now. I mean, you just, we just thank God every time we see him get in the car, or, you know, finish a race," said Gabe's dad Jake. "It's like, wow, he's he's out there living his dream, you know, it was touch and go for a while."
Touch and go because when Gabe was just 11 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer.
"The tumor was found in my brain and so they had to do the surgery that took the tumor out, and they had to find out if it's cancerous. So they sent it to the tumor board," Gabe said. "At first they came back to us and it wasn't cancerous. And so we thought we were done. And then they looked at it again and they're like, oh, wait, it is cancerous."
Gabe underwent 48 days of radiation, and then 48 weeks of chemo. He leaned on his family for support during this time, especially because his mom, Sherry, had just entered into remission from her own cancer diagnosis.
"When we first found out he was gonna have to do chemo treatments and stuff, we were talking to him and Sherry asked him she said, 'are you okay? But I mean, are you scared,'" Jake said. "And he said 'no, mom, I've just seen you go through it and I know you can do it, so I can do it too.'"
"For me, it was a total blessing to be able to go through it and have him see that you know, me go through it and say, okay, I can do this," Sherry said. "So I wouldn't change. I wouldn't change it for the world."
When Gabe finished treatment, the Wishing Star Foundation sent the Tesch family to Austin, Texas to make his dream come true of attending a Formula 1 race.
"So on the flight home, I told my parents I want to be a racecar driver," Gabe said. "And they kind of laughed at me at first. And then I told them that no, God didn't get me through cancer to do something that ordinary. He got me through cancer, to do something extraordinary."
That's exactly what Gabe is doing. Something extraordinary. He's now traveling all over the world as a Formula 4 driver and is the star of a new documentary called "Do Something Extraordinary."
"Even though I've been down in racing, I just, I gotta keep moving forward and keep pushing, and not let those setbacks hold me back," Gabe said.
The documentary is scheduled for release in April. The Tesch family is holding a premiere in Spokane on April 13th at 7:00 p.m. at the First Interstate Center for the Arts. The event is open to the public and tickets are available on the TicketsWest website.
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