HANCOCK COUNTY — He fell in love with racing when he was just a youngster. Rob Rehm’s dad used to take him and his brothers to all kinds of racing events when they were growing up.

The trips always included older brother Richard Rehm, a McCordsville volunteer firefighter who died when his car was struck by a train in December.

The Rehm brothers grew up with racing stories and trips to the famed Indianapolis 500 and visits to other race tracks to watch drivers compete. Rob Rehm even got into the sport testing his skills on go-carts and anything with wheels.

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The Rehm racing passion blossomed into a full-blown hobby two years ago when Rob Rehm became an official semi-professional racecar driver and owner.

Rob Rehm, 53, of McCordsville, is part of the Vores Compact Touring Series and drives mini stock cars at some of the most famous tracks in racing: Lucas Oil Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Winchester Speedway, Angola Motorsport Speedway and Eldora Speedway.

While Richard Rehm was never much into driving cars, he always was around the race track watching races, offering support and rooting for Rob Rehm to do well.

His accidental death prompted Rob Rehm to start a charity, Racing for First-Responders. It’s designed to honor his brother and the families of first-responders who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty.

“I do the racing to have fun, but the charity gives it a purpose,” Rob Rehm said.

Richard Rehm was a longtime McCordsville Fire Department volunteer firefighter who died after his car was struck by a train Christmas Eve morning while he was responding to an emergency call.

His was the first line-of-duty death of a local firefighter in more than 20 years.

Any money Rob Rehm wins racing will be donated to a national organization called Supporting Heroes. The organization’s mission statement is to honor the service and sacrifice of public safety heroes who give their lives in the line of duty by caring for the loved ones they leave behind, according to supportingheroes.org.

Richard Rehm was supposed to go with Rob Rehm to the Bristol Motor Speedway in late May to help him compete in the short track nationals.

“I thought about him a lot when I was there,” Rob Rehm said. “I printed out a picture of him and kept it in my car the whole time.”

He placed 13th out of 35 drivers in the event. He’s currently in the middle of the pack in the points standings and will race through the fall. The success on the track helps Rob Rehm happy to know the better he does the more money he can raise to help others, something his brother loved to do.

Richard Rehm became a volunteer firefighter at 18 and served the McCordsville Volunteer Fire Department for 16 years. He had been awarded his 25-year pin by the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters’ Association.

His niece, Jamie Rehm, Rob Rehm’s daughter, also is a volunteer firefighter for the McCordsville Fire Department as well as an EMT for Lifeline.

She was particularly close to her uncle, with whom she often worked, and loves the fact her father is stepping up to help the families of first-responders.

“My Uncle Richie was all into racing, and while we could sit around and cry and be depressed and sad, we’re trying to put a positive spin on Richie’s death,” she said. “It’s a way to honor him and give to others who have been through what we have been through.”

Jamie Rehm is heading into her senior year of college at IUPUI, where she is studying nursing. She also was named an Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess this year. She took a photo of her uncle to the Indianapolis 500 and captured a keepsake picture of her holding his photo by the pace care.

She loves the fact her father is bringing awareness to the need of families who have lost a loved one who was a first-responder.

“I don’t ever want anyone to go through what we’ve been through,” she said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to prevent that.”

Anyone wishing to support the cause can visit Racing for First-Responders via facebook.com/racingforfirstresponders/.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or kdeer@greenfieldreporter.com.