Palmetto man crosses off bucket list item at drag strip

Terminally ill, Don Musin, reaches 105 mph in 6.5 seconds

ejohnson@bradenton.comFebruary 9, 2013 

MANATEE -- Engines revved, rubber burned and Don Musin crossed another item off his bucket list at Bradenton Motorsports Saturday morning.

The terminally ill Palmetto man who suffers from Metastatic melanoma, stage IV of the cancer, in addition to Parkinson's disease has decided to spend his limited days doing the unthinkable.

A week ago, he took a ride in a hot-air balloon. Now, Musin can say he reached 105 mph in 6.5 seconds in a Bill Lee race car sponsored by Palmetto Police Chief Rick Wells.

"Next week, only the Lord knows," Musin said. "I'm just surviving from day-to-day. I've lived a very quiet life. This is a whole new experience that I'm clearly enjoying."

Musin put on a fire suit jacket and helmet before climbing head-first into the car.

"I'm getting more excited by the minute," he said.

The car's front tires left the ground, smoke billowed, sirens blared and lights flashed, as Musin waved to family and friends.

"Wait until I show my kids," said Musin as he stepped from the car. "It was great. I jerked back a bit. It seemed like I was getting ready to take off."

Musin joked that it was the fastest he had ever gone in his life, and could not wipe the smile from his face.

Wells was on-hand to watch and even autographed a few photos of the race car for Musin.

"It was my pleasure," Wells said to Musin after the ride. "I'm glad I could be a part of it."

To top off the day, Musin met professional driver Larry Morgan.

"The people I'm meeting, I wish I knew a long time ago," Musin said.

Musin said he began thinking of opportunities to explore when talking with another cancer-ridden friend.

"He said, 'You got a bucket list?' I said, 'no,'" Musin recalled. "So he said, 'What would you like to do?' I hadn't really thought about it before."

Bill Lee Jr., who drives professionally for Bill Lee Race Cars, knew Musin from the family's automobile service business in Palmetto, told his father he would like to take Musin for a ride on the quarter-mile drag strip in East Manatee.

"When Bill Lee approached me, I told the guys at the track this is an opportunity to give back to the community," said Bill Lee Sr. "Don's done so much for people his whole life. It means a lot to give a little back. We're so grateful he's here to do the ride."

Musin spent his early life working as a chemist, has been a pastor at two churches and continues to grade papers for a seminary in Lakeland.

"He's lived a faithful, quiet life," said Musin's wife, Gloria. "He's never had fame, never wanted it. This is absolutely astounding to us. It's a wonderful thing he would have never done -- what a blessing."

Elizabeth Johnson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041.

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