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Warrior Jace Foundation raises money for rare childhood cancer; shop chips in

ALBEMARLE — When people walk through the door of RPM Cycles, they aren’t just customers. They’re family.

The Thompsons were no exception when Eric Thompson, a State Highway Patrol trooper in Rowan County, came into the shop with his son, put him on a kid’s dirt bike and pushed him around the store.

Jace was a two-thumbs-up kid, says his mother, Jennifer Thompson.

But on Oct. 23, 2017, and at just 4 years old, Jace was diagnosed with a rare childhood brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the survival rate for DIPC is very low and there is no cure for the tumor.

Jace passed away 347 days later.

It was then that Jennifer, a police captain in Cornelius, turned to a Facebook page created to give updates on Jace as he went through treatment. She turned the page — in the name of the Warrior Jace Foundation — into one to raise awareness about DIPC and funding for research.

Since Jace’s passing, Jennifer has no longer had the duties of a mother, something she considers core to her identity. But running the Warrior Jace Foundation “makes me feel like I’m still taking care of him,” she said.

In 2017, when Jace and his dad visited the RPM Cycles, the Thompsons were looking to purchase a red dirt bike as a Christmas present, but they never bought it after receiving the diagnosis.

Now, they’re organizing a fundraiser for the foundation. And when Jennifer’s parents went into RPM Cycles to ask for a door prize contribution, Cheryl and Rick Price wanted to do something bigger: They offered a 2020 Honda CRF 50 dirt bike as a raffle prize. The bike is similar to the one the Thompsons wanted to buy Jace.

“If Jace can’t ride it, then another kid can ride it,” Cheryl Price said.

They look at it as “Jace’s little dirt bike.”

Cheryl Price said Jace was just part of the family, and she said the shop is not seeking publicity by making the donation.

“If that’s all that I can do, that’s the least I can do,” she said.

Jennifer said the Prices are “super people and super gracious” to give the foundation such a big donation.

The raffle for the bike will be at2 p.m. Nov. 30 at RPM Cycles. Tickets can be purchased at the Warrior Jace Foundation website — warriorjace.org — and at RPM Cycles and other locations. Tickets are $5 each or 25 tickets for $100.

Jennifer Thompson said she wants people to know Jace’s story and that she will always tell people about her son.

“I’m going to talk about him with anyone I can,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she also wants to start a conversation about DIPG because many people, even doctors, are not aware of the cancer.

“We have a terrible disease that we have no clue about,” she said.

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