Family hopes 'ring of love' will spread

The Mikulak family will never be the same without their son Max but they are doing all they can to build his legacy. Through the Max's Ring of Fire Foundation, the Mikulaks have focused their energy on fighting nueroblastoma, the type of pediatric cancer that took the life of their 7-year-old son, Max, in August of last year.

The charity's "Touch a Truck" event will be held from noon to 3 p.m. May 31 at Canyon Crest Academy. The event gives children a chance to get close to all kinds of big deals on wheels: a tow truck, firetruck, police cars, a NASCAR car, Harley motorcycles, Marine Hummers, Volkswagens, a cherry picker and a school bus.

Children will be able to climb inside, honk horns and pretend to drive. There will also be face painting, Star Wars characters on the prowl and hot dogs and drinks for sale.

Tickets to the event are $25 a family with face painting and concessions for another $25. Any Girl Scout or Boy Scout troop that comes in uniform will get the family rate.

All proceeds will go toward Max's Ring of Fire, which supports Dr. Gisele Sholler at the University of Vermont Cancer Center.

Only a few treatment centers nationwide offer drug trials for nueroblastoma--Max used to travel to Vermont for his. The goal of the foundation is to provide such treatments in other places.

Max, once a student at Solana Highlands School, was fascinated with trucks, World War II fighters, skateboards, Star Wars Storm Troopers, bugs and Legos. The son of Andy and Melissa Mikulak, little brother to Hannah and big brother to Nic, he was diagnosed with nueroblastoma in 2004.

In 2006, he relapsed and battled for an additional 21 months before "getting his angel wings" on Aug. 31, 2008.

The Ring of Fire name is in honor of one of Max's favorite songs: Social Distortion's version of Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Melissa Mikulak said Nic and Hannah love to watch the family videos of Max singing the song.

"I visualize the ring of fire getting bigger and bigger," Mikulak said. "A ring of love expanding to more and more people."

The Mikulak family is coming up on Max's first birthday without him on June 30.

"I got through Thanksgiving, Christmas, but I was still numb then," Mikulak said. "His birthday is going to be the biggest milestone ever. I have a child who will be forever 7. That is definitely the hardest thing."

The organization's next big event will be Sept. 26 in a hangar at McClellan-Palomar Airport and will be aimed at parents. Called Maxapalooza, it will be a "mash-up of all the things Max loved" with low rider cars, P51 Mustangs, Premier Jet planes, a military flyover, skateboarding demos and live music.

For information on Touch a Truck or Maxapalooza, visit

www.maxsringoffire.org

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