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Lymphoma patient's 'lucky colors' to boost Kasey Kahne at NASCAR

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KOMO Photo

SEATTLE -- When NASCAR drivers hit the Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, Enumclaw's Kasey Kahne will have a little extra luck on his side. A young artist designed Kahne's paint scheme, and this boy already knows a lot about winning a tough battle.

His name is Wyatt Zender, and he is an outgoing, outdoorsy 9-year old.

"Football, basketball, those are some of my favorite sports," Wyatt said. But he was recently sidelined by the worst news.

"I had these lumps in my body and they grew bigger," Wyatt described. This was in March. His mom took him to see the doctor.

"They knew right away," Heather Zender said. "They said it was some kind of lymphoma and we would need to go to Children's."

The Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis launched Wyatt into months of treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy.

"It's hard to watch your kid go through chemo," Wyatt's dad Tony Zender said. "They're not feeling good, they're sick. They're puking."

"Helplessness. You just are there for them but can't really make things better," Heather said. "It was hard."

During his long hospital stays, Wyatt turned to another hobby - artwork. One day, a nurse handed him a picture of a race car to color.

"The nurse saw that I was particular in artwork," Wyatt said. "She wanted me to do the contest."

The contest was to design a paint scheme for Kasey Kahne's race car. Kahne chose Wyatt's as one of his top three designs, then fans voted Wyatt the winning artist. On Sunday, Wyatt gets to see how his design looks at 200 miles an hour, when Kasey Kahne hits the speedway for first playoff race of the NASCAR Cup Series

Wyatt is done with his chemo, he's back in school and back to playing sports. And now he's ready to share some of his fighting spirit with Kasey Kahne. As for the colors in the paint scheme? "I just thought they looked lucky," Wyatt said.