Donations, overwhelming support help man build race car for neph - - The News for South Mississippi

Donations, overwhelming support help man build race car for nephew


Larry White was two years old when he took his first ride on a motorcycle.

His uncle, Eddie Willis, said Larry didn't know it at the time, but he would eventually fall in love with racing.

"He loved riding that motorcycle," Willis said. "I guess that's where the racing came from."

Now 43 years old, Larry lives in Saucier, Mississippi, and loves being outside. Whether he's working on cars or mowing the lawn, being outdoors is an obvious preference.

If you see him at a local race track, he might be the most popular person there. He doesn't necessarily like go-karts or drag racing, but he loves being around hot rods. 

Unfortunately, Larry is unable to operate a vehicle or talk. He has cerebral palsy and doesn't have full use of his right hand.

But no language is needed to understand that Larry's motor is fueled by racing. 

As a surprise to his nephew, Eddie decided to purchase a car for $200 and present it to him as a gift in July 2014.

After Larry's strenuous cleaning of his new prize, he and Eddie pulled the vehicle into the garage and stripped all the parts off in order to build it back up again. The car worked fine before, and didn't have a battery, but years of sitting idle affected the vehicle's motor.

Eddie effectively had a special blueprint of the new hot rod he wanted to bring to life.

They had their sights set on a dual-controlled car that Larry could direct with his own steering wheel on the passenger side. The colors of the car would include white, orange, black, red and a hint of pink. The number 05 was the choice to be on the outside of the doors.

But an extensive renovation wasn't without cost. 

Eddie created a Facebook page so his friends and family could keep up with Larry and his assistance to the construction. He had no idea that thousands of fans would show support via page likes, messages and even monetary donations.

"I had never heard of [Buster McDaniel], I'd never talked to him," Eddie Willis said. "Buster sent me a message January 1st of this year. He said, 'I like what you're doing with Larry. I'd like to make a donation if that's possible.'"

When a $500 check arrived in Eddie's mail one day, he was initially speechless.

"My wife brought that check in and she says, 'You better spend every dime of that money on that race car,'" Eddie said. "I'm like, 'What? What do you think I'm going to do with it?'

"What she didn't know was that this race car has always been for Larry, and people like Larry."

Eddie lost count of how much donated money has gone to The Larry White Project, but once the car is finished, it will become priceless.

Buster McDaniel made a surprise trip to south Mississippi and National Muffler in Gulfport, which is where Eddie currently works. 

"I brought y'all a box of donuts, but I see you already have some," McDaniel said. "Well, I was just in the area and I wanted to introduce myself."

He paused, didn't say another word and looked straight at Eddie.

"My job is to make you laugh. If I make you laugh, I've done my job," Eddie said. "But all that picking in me went away and chills just went across my body like I saw Jesus," Eddie said. "I said, 'Oh my God. Oh my God.' I couldn't get the third 'Oh my God' out of my mouth.

"I stood there and cried like a baby for 10 minutes."

A family friend has picked up the tab to pay for the decals and paint to finish off the project, but there were so many more people involved with it, including the rest of Larry and Eddie's family.

The car is set to be unveiled at a private showing January 16.

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