NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. — Nick Brucker can’t stop talking about his pride and joy. The man from New Kent is the new owner of a rare Mustang Shelby.
“I just hit 75,000 miles on it and I plan on keeping as many as I can on there,” Brucker said. “They are just masterpieces that is the best way to describe it. They are amazing.”
The Shelby is a thunderous ride that demands attention.
“Lots of little kids have their faces glued to the window with a thumbs up," Brucker said about the reaction he gets on the road. "A lot of old guys too. They love checking it out.”
While he always dreamed of owning a Shelby, it was a nightmare that led him to make the purchase.
In July 2020, what the 33-year-old thought was a bout with food poisoning turned out to be far sinister: Stage four colon cancer.
“Hearing the words, ‘You have cancer.’ I didn’t think it could happen to me. I worked in the nutrition field. I ate healthily. I exercised,” Brucker said.
Doctors gave him a 10% chance of survival.
“Your whole world changes in an instant,” Brucker said.
The James Madison University graduate didn’t want any regrets.
So, in redefining impulse buy, he emptied his 401k to purchase his Shelby one month after his diagnosis.
“I saw it and said I have to have one of these days. When you find out you have cancer it is like well why not?” Brucker said.
Two years, eight surgeries, and 40-plus rounds of chemo later, Brucker certainly doesn’t have buyer's remorse.
“It has been a blast. Chemo sucks. But driving to and from it makes it a little bit better,” Brucker said.
Brucker said he believed his ride is the best medicine. But he doesn’t want to spin his wheels solo. So he put an idea into sixth gear.
Last fall, he founded the nonprofit Cruising for Cancer.
“It has connected me with a lot of other cancer patients where we can just talk,” Brucker said. “Just go out for a ride and have fun and just relax.”
He now shuttles fellow cancer patients to chemo treatments or runs errands in style.
“Simple things that if you know if you get out of the house and you feel better and drive a GT500 makes it a little bit better,” Brucker said.
Sylvio Brutus is battling stage four cancer.
He met Brucker through doctors. The pair has been inseparable ever since.
“It is not a friendship. It is a brotherhood. You never forget your brother,” Brutus said.
The 43-year-old high school coach said cruising with Brucker helped him forget about his illness and hospital visits, at least for a while.
“Man! It’s hard to explain unless you experience it. Whether you have cancer or not, get in touch with Nick to get this ride. You need this ride,” Brutus said.
Brucker's journey has been fraught with potholes, but it has not detoured his mission.
“The best way to help yourself is to give unconditionally to other people,” Brucker said. “That is the key to life. And the key to happiness is to just give.”
If you ever have a chance to look under the hood of Nick Brucker’s prized Mustang Shelby, next to the 500 Horsepower engine you’ll find a super-charged heart.
“We never know when any of us are going to go, but it put it in the forefront of my mind that the end could be near but might as well have fun.”
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