Hey Dreamers! We have a special treat to share with you today.
Below is a paper written by Morgan Batley. Morgan is big sister to Nicholas, our 1st Dream Kid. Morgan and the rest of Nicholas’ family joined Nicholas in his NASCAR dream earlier this year. She is an NC Scholar and Honors Graduate from Mooresville High School. (Wow!) She is currently a Freshman at Appalachian State University (Go APP!)
Someday Morgan would like to (somewhat) freelance work for sports channels like ESPN or Fox Sports primarily because of her brother’s huge interest in sports. She believes it would be interesting if her brother got to be a commentator while she works along side him behind the scenes to make watching sports enjoyable for all fans.
We were honored when Morgan chose to write about DO3 for a class and we want to share her talents and story with you! Enjoy!
Excitement and anxiety filled the ranch-style building that I called my home. It was the day something extraordinary was going to happen, the day a boy’s dream would come true. My autistic brother, Nicholas, watched the clock, counting down every minute and every second, as the time grew nearer. All dressed in our favorite driver’s shirts, we waited for that call that would signal the beginning of an amazing day. My entire family, including myself, tried distracting ourselves by watching TV or playing on our computer to keep ourselves from manning the window.
Then the knock came. We all jumped up, hearts pounding and huge smiles on our face for we knew it had begun. Brandon, cofounder of a new charity organization, greeted us at
the door, giving us shirts with the group’s logo printed on the front. After each receiving a shirt, we quickly replaced our racing tees with the new bright colored shirts. Once we had changed, Brandon told us to come outside to see how we would be getting to the racetrack. The May sunshine greeted us with immense warmth, but the excitement and eagerness pumping through my whole family easily defeated the feeling of heat.
As we waited, I searched around anxiously, seeing what would happen. I remember hearing my heart pounding in my chest as I tried to hide my overwhelming emotions. After what seemed to be an eternity, I heard my brother scream out, “Oh my Lord!” We all turned to see a huge, white limousine heading down the street towards us with its hazard lights on, and then it pulled off into the grass on our yard. As soon as the huge vehicle came to a stop, the door opened and out came a few family friends to greet Nicholas. My brother was greeted with massive amounts of hugs and given gifts that people had made for this special day.
As everyone mingled amongst each other, I looked down the street to see two police chargers, one an undercover and the other a normal patrol car, heading towards us with their lights on. The first thought in my head was that we were in trouble for obstructing traffic because the limo was not fully off the road. My fear was replaced with excitement when they took their places in front of and behind the limousine and then got out to greet us. I suddenly realized the purpose of the police being there – a police escort to the race. I honestly could not tell you who was more excited about the escort, my brother or myself.
We all felt as if we were on top of the world at that point. Brandon called us together before take off and asked my brother to do the cheer. We all stuck our hands in the middle of our group and my brother started. “1, 2, 3, Dream!”
Our adventure continued as we made our way towards the racetrack in Concord. The drive to the track seemed to fly by as we were escorted through traffic lights and around cars. We watched the police officers replace each other as we moved from county to county, changing jurisdiction. As we got closer to the track, we passed by the massive grass and gravel filled fields where thousands of fans gathered to camp out and tailgate before the afternoon’s race. Everyone stopped and stared at the tinted windows to try to see who we were. It made me feel special to be able to drive by everyone and have them stop in their tracks to stare as we passed.
Once we got to the track, we were handed our credentials, making us feel like VIPs. These credentials granted us access for the rest of the day to all the surprises that were planned for our family.
Once we were dropped off in the infield, we made our way towards the motorhomes where all the big name “celebrities” stayed for the race. As we turned the corner, I nearly stopped where I was as I could feel my heart skip a beat. Coming towards us on a golf cart was a racing legend that I have always wanted to meet. The black cowboy hat, dark sunglasses, and a pair of murky brown cowboy boots confirmed the figure in front of me. I pointed him out to my brother, trying to get him as excited as I was. A huge grin spread on his face as he recognized the iconic figure, exclaiming happily “It’s the King!” Everyone else turned just in time to see Richard Petty drive by us giving a slight wave and a bright white smile.
We continued walking as he passed and came to a stop at a large, black motorhome. Leading to the door was a brick sidewalk with the letters “D.W.” engraved in one of the bricks, as well as a wooden sign that had “Darrell Waltrip” written along the surface of it. As we walked down the path, his driver went inside the gigantic vehicle and left us to wait anxiously for his appearance. A figure opened the door and my brother screamed out, “Darrell Waltrip! Hi, buddy,” and ran to give him a giant bear hug. He talked about several things with Nicholas, including remember seeing him at a local baseball charity game. Nicholas’s dream definitely came true when he was able to say Darrell Waltrip’s famous starting phrase with the creator, “Boogity, Boogity, Boogity! Let’s go racing boys and Danica!”
After spending time with Darrell Waltrip, taking pictures and getting autographs, we made our way back to one of the garage buildings in the center of the grassy infield. As soon as we stepped inside, we were greeted with a wave of cool air from the air conditioning that was being pumped into the concrete building. Rows of chairs filled roughly half of the rectangular garage. As we moved closer to the front of the chairs, I realized that we would be some of the lucky few to actually be able to sit in at a driver’s meeting. Many different celebrities began filling the room and we were able to get some autographs from several people. My brother and I even got our picture taken with Willie Robertson from the TV show, Duck Dynasty.
After that, I spotted a very important man in our state government, Governor McCrory. Originally, I had no interest in our politics, but after seeing how he interacted with my brother, I had changed my mind-set. Not only was Governor McCrory nice to Nicholas, he took time from greeting other fans to actually interact with my brother, giving him hugs and telling him how much he had made the governor’s day.
Following the meeting, we met with a group of people representing Sprint who had even more surprises in store for us. They led us towards the front stretch of the track, where you could see the air writhe and squirm along the hot asphalt. We arrived onto the pits where every driver’s team was set up and ready for the upcoming race.
Spending very little time on the pits, we were rushed towards the stage where the announcers would introduce the drivers according to their starting position. For these ceremonies, we were standing at the bottom of the stairs, just off the stage where the driver’s walked before they climbed onto their truck to do their parade lap. It took a little while for the introductions to start, which only added to the excitement levels that everyone was trying to control. As all the drivers made their way across the stage and down the stairs, we were given high-fives from nearly all forty-three drivers. What made that event special was when Nicholas got to high-five the driver of the twenty-four Chevrolet and his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. I have never seen him smile so wide before and, as a result, it brought tears to my eyes. This was part two of his dream that he wanted to come true.
Once the introductions were finished, we were whisked off in a golf cart towards the suites above the racetrack and general admission seating. My family and I were led towards a suite with Sprint’s logo plastered among the doors. I truly felt like the most important person in the world at that moment because we would be watching the race in a stylish and air conditioned suite with free food and drinks. Sprint rented out two large connected suites that only the top employees could get into, like the CEO and his family. It truly was nice to be able to get a viewpoint from higher than you would in the stands, plus the option of watching it on the television screens. My brother was so excited to be able to watch the race from above and be able to freely commentate the race without people giving him odd looks. The race was long, especially when a camera malfunctioned and broke, hitting a car, which caused NASCAR to stop the race for what seemed like an eternity. After the officials got it sorted out, we went back to watching the race.
When it was all over, the four of us were exhausted. We got back to the limousine and said our goodbyes to Brandon and the crew as we climbed into the darkened interior of the vehicle. Everyone had a blast and surely something as spectacular and adventure-filled day like this would never be forgotten. To this day, I can still hear my brother exclaim, “This is the best day of my life!” with the same amount of excitement and happiness that he had on that beautiful May day. I can not thank Brandon and the Dream On 3 organization enough for making my brother’s dream come true, and for allowing me to share with him.
-Morgan Batley, Sister of Dream Kid Nicholas
Learn more about Dream On 3 here
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