Wise beyond his 22 years, Daniel McKune has managed to turn life-altering adversity into a positive in hopes of being an inspiration to others. It doesn’t take much to see McKune has already accomplished that.
Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 17 and told at one point he would never walk again – just before he was to graduate high school – McKune has nonetheless thrived in the face of it all. His raced his Pro Mod Firebird to a runner-up finish in the Aeromotive Wild Card Shootout at the World Series of Pro Mod, earning a spot in the weekend’s main event. It was a thrilling moment for McKune, who earned a spot on the DI 30 Under 30 list in 2017 while trying to use his story for a bigger purpose.
“I’m trying to get out there and let people know that they might have a bad day and think it’s over, but it’s not,” McKune says. “I have my days, but I’m always trying to push myself to get better. Whatever needs to happen, I’ve tried to make it happen.”
McKune takes chemotherapy drugs every six months, which is a rough and draining process, but it’s necessary if he wants to continue to race, and the Colorado native is determined to make racing a big part of his present and future. He’s transformed his diet, added a strict workout routine and feels physically and mentally stronger than ever, which also has a strong carryover to his racing.
“I had to buckle down and change some things to be able to (race),” McKune admits. “Just because you hit a speed bump doesn’t mean you have to stop. I want to motivate everybody as much as I possibly can.”
McKune’s perseverance provides that, and racing in the World Series of Pro Mod was the culmination of that work in 2017. Outside of some local racing, it was the only major race he attended this year, and he performed well in his supercharged ’68 Firebird. He lost in the first round of the WSOPM main event to Steve Matusek, but McKune certainly made himself known. The 2018 World Series of Pro Mod will be his main focus next year, and he is expecting success, no matter what stands in his way.
“It was great to be part of the first one and to make it to the main event, it was definitely awesome,” McKune continues. “Getting our name out there was the biggest thing. We might be David but we’ll fight with Goliath. This is everything to me, and my dream come true. I’m putting everything into this.”
This story originally appeared in DI #127, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in December of 2017.