I must say, I truly enjoyed today’s article written by Gary titled, “Car people are the best people!” My wife and myself have spent much of our lives attempting to do what we consider special things to try and make others lives special in a way that will make a long term difference. We have taken kids and their families who were terminally ill or short-comings or whatever and helped them do things that they never dreamed possible. Sometimes we ask them what they would like to do if they had the chance and sharing those dreams with them makes for some amazing times. Some kids and their families we take to the Forty Niners locker room to meet some of the players and toss a few balls around. Some have never flown in a plane before so an hour or so around the San Francisco Bay Area makes for an awesome afternoon. We have a special place in a beautiful setting that is a short flight away where we take kids and their families for a day of trout fishing and all the fish they can catch. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it is to see a family enjoying these sorts of things when we know they will not be around long.
It was this exact type of emotions that led me to helping set up and organize a special event that takes place at various race tracks around the United States each year. What we do is invite all the Special Olympic young people along with their friends and parents to the track for the day. Once they are at the track we divide them up so that each one of them gets to spend the day with a specific team. During that day the team will let them help out with car preparation and let them sit in the car, have lunch with them, help change some tires and so on. During the mid day all racing is stopped for a “Special Race”. Each Special Olympic Athlete is fitted with a helmet and gloves and strapped into the passenger’s side of a race car. Everyone and I mean everyone including the friends and parents of the athletes stops what they are doing and comes to the pit wall where all the cars are lined up for the big start. Engines are revving up and people are cheering and the green flag is dropped and we’re off. We drive around the track in 1st or 2nd gear which seems to give the impression we are at breakneck speeds but the cars are well within safe speeds. No one is passed unless someone pulls off into the hot pits for some reality checks.
After a couple laps the checkered flag is waved and we all pull into the pits. Drivers like Zanardi should be so lucky to have so many emotional fans and as God as my witness there isn’t a dry eye in the crowd with all the hugging and love that is offered. Afterwards everyone comes to the awards ceremony where sponsored gifts are awarded to the athletes and everyone of them is running around yelling, “WE WON! WE WON! WE WERE THE FASTEST!!!” Even though they usually get a ribbon or a toy Hot Wheels you would think they just won the lottery. In the afternoon it’s tradition for all the teams to ask the Special Olympic Athletes for their autographs and you talk about smiles!!!
The bottom line is all too often we tend to not realize something that we may take for granted or may not feel is exciting for us may in fact be a life long fantasy for someone else. Keep in mind you don’t have to treat someone every week or even spend a lot of money doing it. On the other hand I guarantee you that if you just sit down this weekend and start asking yourself if you know of anyone who just might enjoy a part of a day to do something that you will realize there are a lot less fortunate than you. I find that even taking someone to a free car show is an amazing event for some and don’t forget or underestimate the handicapped or the elderly either. They love getting out just as much as anyone else.
In this world of what’s in it for me there is nothing more rewarding than to give to others and what better way to do it than with cars. Go for a ride, a race, car show or even to a drive in for a Root Beer float. You won’t soon forget it.