Racing for a cure

LENA, Wis. (WBAY) - A Denmark teen continues working hard to find a cure for a disease that affects him and 300,000 other children in this country.

And now, Max Larsen has found a new way to raise money for juvenile arthritis.

It was last year Larsen fell in love with fastest growing racing in the country, side-by-side racing.

"I went with a friend to the races in Crandon, and I saw the UTVs racing and I was like, yeah, that's cool, I'd like to do that," says Larsen.

But beyond the sport, Larsen saw an opportunity, another one, to raise money for the Arthritis Foundation.

When we first met Larsen in 2015, he was already a champion to find a cure.

Diagnosed with juvenile arthritis in 2011, Larsen had become the nation's top fundraiser for the Jingle Bell Run two years in a row.

That streak hasn't stopped, and over the past 7 years he's raised more than $250,000 in the fight against arthritis.

"He's definitely rare and unique, just to be a freshman -- or sophomore soon to be -- in high school and to have just the mentality and to be so humble and caring, there's not many kids out there like that," says Phil Melnarik, Green Bay Arthritis Foundation development director.

From cow pie bingo to livestock shows to social media campaigns, Larsen has aimed to tackle the disease he lives with but overcomes.

"I take meds, I have a shot that I take, and then I go to therapy every once in a while," says Larsen.

This weekend at Dirt City in Lena, 150 racers will compete for prize money in a side-by-side series event.

Instead of racing, Larsen is turning over his UTV to a top racer in hopes of earning more money to fight arthritis.

"My dad's got it, and I know Max has it, and I know what it can do to people and affect their lives and to be able to raise money and help support them and anybody else is an honor," says Jake Lunderby from Sidney, Montana, who will drive Larsen's UTV.

"When we learned about Max having juvenile arthritis and then that he's such a great advocate for them, we thought it was really important to somehow tie them in and let our organization help them become more widespread amongst a group of people they may not have right now," says Courtney Prost, SXS Sports Series director.

Just another way Max Larsen is racing to find a cure.

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