Camoflauge With Some Sparkle and a Tutu

Check out this post from Danielle Froning, a new member of our Dream Gala planning committee!

Photo by Themba Imagery

Photo by Themba Imagery

“What do I wear?” was the first question I asked when I was told we were attending a ‘Gala’. Never having been to a gala before, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know at the time how little my outfit would matter in the grand scheme of things. I had never heard of the Dream On 3 organization before, so I took to google and spent time looking through their website and was instantly intrigued. Sick children naturally hold a soft spot for me, and being an avid sports fan myself, the idea of sports themed dreams for these special people was brilliant.

The Inaugural Dream On 3 Gala was held at The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte. We checked in and immediately hit the red carpet for some photo ops before walking through the overwhelming display of Silent Auction items. It was inspiring to see how many valuable items had been donated and spoke to the confidence people had in the organization. Items ranging from a signed Steve Smith picture (which we happen to be the proud owners of!) to an Auburn Football signed by Cam Newton (War Eagle!) to a signed Derek Jeter Baseball. The silent auction was such a hit that they had to ask everyone to venture to the ballroom for dinner a second time so dinner could be served.

Inaugural Dream Gala Silent Auction Photo by Themba Imagery

Inaugural Dream Gala Silent Auction                                               Photo by Themba Imagery

Throughout the cocktail hour I noticed several younger attendees whom I assumed were just out for an evening with the family. Before heading to the ballroom for dinner, I popped in the restroom where I met Dream Kid Angel Thompson. She was gleaming ear-to-ear with excitement of being at such an event. While waiting on my friend to finish up, Angel told me she loved my dress. Her reassurance on my dress was enough for me! Being a hunting enthusiast, Angel’s dress was camouflage print with some sparkle and a tutu – so, I obviously assured her I loved hers as well.

Dream Kid Angel at our Inaugural Dream Gala Photo by Themba Imagery

Dream Kid Angel at our Inaugural Dream Gala
Photo by Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

During dinner we were introduced to the Dream Kids with videos of their story. After each video the Dream Kid and their family took the stage to show their immense appreciation for everything Dream On 3 has and is doing. And each of one of the Kids was presented with a gift that somehow fit ‘their dream’.

Dream Kid Nicholas Batley Takes the Stage! Photo by: Themba Imagery

Dream Kid Nicholas Batley Takes the Stage! Photo by: Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Inaugural Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

Dream Kids at our Inaugural Dream Gala. Photos by Themba Imagery

And then there was the final Dream Kid, Nicholas Thornton. The minute Nicholas’ video started, I was in tears because I knew this was one Dream Kid we weren’t going to meet that night. Nicholas passed away a month shy of living out his Dream Experience and that truly broke my heart. I was thankful for the amazing wait staff that had plenty of tissues on hand.

Olympian Lauren Perdue & DO3 co-founder Elizabeth announce the Nicholas Thornton Scholarship Fund

Olympian Lauren Perdue & DO3 co-founder Elizabeth announce the Nicholas Thornton Scholarship Fund. Photo by Themba Imagery

It was then and there, at dinner in the ballroom of the Dream Gala, that I decided I wanted to help in any way I could. I immediately reached out to Elizabeth Lindsey and offered my time to any of their numerous projects. The first task she assigned me too was helping plan the 2015 Dream Gala and I hope to help make it even bigger and better!

So, if you were there at the inaugural Dream Gala, we look forward to seeing you again, and if you missed it, I hope I’ve helped you realize what a magical night it is and look forward to seeing you in January!

-Danielle

SAVE THE DATE!

Our 2nd Annual Dream Gala will be January 24th at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

We can’t wait to see you there!

Not Just A Day Dream

The following is a post from James Metsger, Lead Pastor at Renaissance Bible Church. James currently serves as Chairman on our Board of Directors at Dream On 3. Thank you James!

Not Just A Day Dream 

We love events. “Circle your calendar!” “The big game is on at 4!” “The concert starts at 8.” “The show begins at 6.” Events have a designated starting time. For the most part, we know when they end. They are clearly defined and measurable. We get excited about big events. We should. Events make for great memories. You remember the concert your drove across country for in college. You remember the game you snuck into as a kid. You remember the first date, graduation, or wedding day. Events are memorable, but they are also momentary. Eventually the music stops. Soon you go from passing classes to paying for classes. The wedding party is over and the hard work of marriage beings. What I’ve grown to love about Dream on 3 is that it’s not just a day dream.

 Dream on 3 makes dreams come true for children with chronic illnesses, developmental disabilities, or life-altering conditions by creating experiences of joy and magic through the world of sports. They “do” the event and they do it well! Yankee Stadium? Yes! Charlotte Motor Speedway? Start your engines! Miami Heat? They’ve experienced the Heat wave! What’s not to love about an event that brings joy to the heart of a child and his or her family? There’s nothing like seeing inexpressible joy on a child’s face when their dream comes true. I love serving with a great team of high caliber people. I love sports. I can’t play them, at least not well, but I love them. I love the perseverance and the passion of the founders of a great organization. I love the hoopla and excitement of the big day. I love seeing pictures and watching a video that captures the day forever. I love the opportunities they provide for kids that often don’t qualify for other wish granting organizations. But what I love the most is that when a family wakes up from their dream, Dream on 3 is still there. 

I love the event, but Dream on 3 is about more than the event. They are about more than making a day, they are about making a difference. Dream on 3 is about a process. It’s a process of finding a child whose life has been altered by an unwanted and uninvited guest. It’s a process of understanding the challenges a family faces. It’s the process of figuring out how to serve a family when they balloons float away, the confetti is swept away, and the team walks away.

What I love about this organization are the things no one else will ever see. I love hearing about the phone calls that come from grateful parents months after the event has ended. I love knowing that a mom can call Elizabeth, the Director of Operations and Programming, and tell her she had a rough day. I love that Brandon, the Founder and Executive Director, can attend a little league game where the only cameras aren’t from the press, but from the parents. I love that the ones leading the organization don’t just help Dreams come true, but they are there when the dream events are over and the process of life continues.

-James Metsger, Renaissance Bible Church  

Board of Directors Chairman for Dream On 3

James Metsger

 

Don’t forget to purchase your tickets for our upcoming Dream Gala on March 29th! 

Hope

A Christmas note from our Founder, Brandon Lindsey. 

Co-Founders Brandon & Elizabeth Lindsey with their daughters

Co-Founders Brandon & Elizabeth Lindsey with their daughters

HOPE

What does Christmas mean to you? 

I was that kid (and probably still am at heart) that loved Christmas only because I was in a good position to get tons of stuff that I didn’t deserve yet wanted badly.  The enjoyment and excitement that I experienced from receiving gifts was rivaled only by my devious obsession with finding out what those gifts were before Christmas morning.  My mom loves Christmas!  Unlike her mischievous red headed son, Mom’s love for the season came from being able to give her kids everything that we wanted for Christmas.  Seeing our faces light up as we tore away the paper disguising our every wish gave her the greatest pleasure.  So you can imagine how well it went over when I started pointing to the wrapped presents under the tree and naming them off one by one.  “That’s a skateboard.  That one is a soccer ball.  Kyle, you can have that one over there ….it’s a sweater.”  It became painfully clear that I had found my way into the attic and stumbled upon Santa’s secret stash.  Mom’s holiday joy turned very quickly into a fiery fit of Christmas fury.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was the Christmas that Mom had wrapped that year’s “BIG present” in the most beautiful and elegant white wrapping paper.  As beautiful as it was, she definitely overlooked one fatal flaw.  If you held the box up to the light, at just the right angle you could read the outside of the box as clear as day…”GAMEBOY!”  Funny to me, not so funny to her!

Looking back on it today, I do regret robbing her of that joy.  If you were to ask her, I know that she would say that we were just being boys and no matter how much we drove her crazy, she wouldn’t trade one minute of it.

Now it’s 2013, and Christmas has certainly taken on a different meaning to me.  I’m sure that most normal people mature at a much faster rate, but after 37 years I’ve finally accepted the fact that Christmas may not be about ME.  The other astonishing revelation is that I’m okay with that!  I have finally learned to truly appreciate that overwhelming joy that comes from the act of giving.  There’s no greater joy than watching a child on Christmas morning!  I love being able to give them the things that they have wished so hard for, even though Santa’s still getting all of the credit!

This Christmas is one of the most exciting that I’ve ever experienced.  This year, I’m excited to say that our family has grown exponentially!  Our family is no longer defined by the bodies gathered around our dinner table.  Because of Dream On 3, our family now includes the Batleys, the McNeals, the Corrells, the Thompsons, and the Bowers.  Our family now includes a wonderful Board of Directors, a small army of passionate volunteers, our healthcare partners, our sports community partners, and most importantly YOU…our faithful supporters!

Dream On 3 has provided us a vehicle in which we are able to give a special gift to some very deserving kids.  The best gift that we can give these kids and these families is more than just a day of surprises and celebrity interactions.  Our greatest desire is to gift our Dream Kids with something less tangible yet more sustaining…..HOPE.  We want to show our Dream Kids that no matter the challenges and obstacles that they have to overcome, they are never beyond being able to live out their dreams.

Hope is a very powerful force.  Although very similar, hope is not the same as optimism.  Optimism is seeing the glass as half-full.  Hope is being able to always see the beauty and expect the good in situations where the glass may actually be empty, or even broken.    Hope gives us the strength to live for today like we already know what’s in store for us tomorrow.  It is the force that pushes a solider to endure a living hell in a foreign land so that he may be able to hold his wife and children in his arms again.  It’s the thing that helps that single mom move back into the dating scene and allow herself to be loved again.  It’s the one thing that a parent holds on to when the doctor tells them that “it doesn’t look good.”  Hope is powerful.  Hope can be healing.  Hope can allow you to do things that you never thought you could do.  Hope is the real gift that we at Dream On 3 want to be able to give to our Dream Kids.

Hope sounds like a pretty awesome thing doesn’t it?  Here’s the best part…this Christmas we all get to experience that hope!  The greatest gift of all time was given to all of us about 2013 years ago.   We were given the gift of hope through the life and death of Jesus Christ.  We get to live today because we know what’s in store for us tomorrow. That hope tells us that one day we will all overcome our challenges, our broken bodies,  and our emotional pain.  Let us all take this time to rest in that Hope and to reflect on that Gift.  Merry Christmas Dream Team!

-Brandon Lindsey, Founder of Dream On 3

2013-12-24 12.32.17

Please help us make more Dreams come true for very deserving kids! Click here to help.

“That Beautiful May Day”

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! 

1, 2, 3, Dream!

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

Dream Kid Nicholas and Family receive their DO3 shirts!

Dream Kid Nicholas and Family receive their DO3 shirts!

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.

Nicholas' friends and family members pour out of the limo to surprise him (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas’ friends and family members pour out of the limo to surprise him
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

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.

The group before Nicholas' Dream Experience! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

The group before Nicholas’ Dream Experience!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

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.

1…2…3..Dream! All hands in! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

1…2…3..Dream! All hands in!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

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.

Nicholas' sister Morgan gets her VIP pass! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas’ sister Morgan gets her VIP pass!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

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.

Racing King Richard Petty gives a wave. (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Racing King Richard Petty gives a wave.
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

We continued walking as he passed and came to a stop at a large, black motorhome. View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3Leading 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!”

Dream Kid Nicholas has fun with his idol, Darrell Waltrip (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Dream Kid Nicholas has fun with his idol, Darrell Waltrip
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas and his sister pose with Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson

Nicholas and his sister pose with Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson

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.

Nicholas gets a hug from Governor Pat McCrory

Nicholas gets a hug from Governor Pat McCrory (Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

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.View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3

Nicholas and sister Morgan watch as the Drivers come off stage.

Nicholas and sister Morgan watch as the Drivers come off stage. (Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

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.

Nicholas and his sister Morgan celebrate after high-fiving Jeff Gordon! (Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

Nicholas and his sister Morgan celebrate after high-fiving Jeff Gordon!
(Photo Cred: Themba Imagery)

View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3Once 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.

Nicholas and his family enjoy the race in style. (Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

Nicholas and his family enjoy the race in style.
(Photo Cred- Themba Imagery)

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.View More: http://thembaimagery.pass.us/dreamon3

-Morgan Batley, Sister of Dream Kid Nicholas

Morgan with her brother Nicholas

Morgan with her brother Nicholas

Watch the video of Nicholas’ Dream Experience!

Learn more about Dream On 3 here

-We need YOUR help to make more Dreams come true! Please consider donating money or miles here

Happy Birthday Dream On 3!

Elizabeth Lindsey and daughter, Victoria, on the way to Nicholas' Dream Experience.  Photo Cred: Themba Imagery

Elizabeth Lindsey and daughter, Victoria, on the way to Nicholas’ Dream Experience.
Photo Cred: Themba Imagery

A year ago this month, Dream On 3 was created by Brandon & Elizabeth Lindsey and Martha & Danny Borrell. Through the incredible support of friends, families, and even strangers, we have met all of our one year goals and beyond! We are so grateful for all of the help we have received along the way.

In this post, co-founder Elizabeth Lindsey reflects back over Dream On 3’s first year. Enjoy!

1. Looking back over the last year what were your favorite or most rewarding moments?

“Telling our 2 Dream Kids – Nicholas & Zasheed (& both families) that we were going to fullfill their Sports Dream!”

Dream Kid Zebulon and his mom at our CrossFit fundraiser.

Dream Kid Zebulon and his mom at our CrossFit fundraiser.

 2. What surprised you most along the way? 
“How our community has supported Dream On 3 & this mission.  Everyone that we share our story with wants to help in some shape or fashion.”
The CrossFit Charlotte community came together to raise money for our NYY Dream Experience!

The CrossFit Charlotte community came together to raise money for our NYY Dream Experience!

3. What is your favorite part of a Dream Experience?
“The send off!  Seeing the overwhelming excitement & joy it brings to a child and their family.”
Dream Kid Nicholas calls Elizabeth to tell her they need a bigger vehicle!

Dream Kid Nicholas calls Elizabeth to tell her they need a bigger vehicle!
Photo Cred- Themba Imagery

Describe a moment that:
1. You were touched by a Dream Kid or family:
“BJ meeting Doug Floutie at the Touchdown Club – seeing his confidence & genuine excitement shine through.  Despite his physical battle he was joyful.”
Dream Kid BJ meets Doug Flutie

Dream Kid BJ meets Doug Flutie

2. Everything came together perfectly:
“What we call “Dream Mojo” – the McNeal family being upgraded to FIRST CLASS to New York City!”
Dream Kid Zasheed and his mom on the way to NYC -Photo Cred: Themba Imagery

Dream Kid Zasheed and his mom on the way to NYC
-Photo Cred: Themba Imagery

3. You got that “teary-eyed/goosebumps/Ty Pennington just ‘moved that bus'” feeling:
“Every time I watch Zasheed say “Thank You” in the McNeal video with the upmost sincerity while receiving NY Yankees gear on their Dream Experience at the MLB Fan Cave.  You can tell the experience made a difference for him.”
Dream Kid Zasheed shows off his new NYY hat

Dream Kid Zasheed shows off his new NYY hat!
Photo Cred- Themba Imagery

 4. What are you most excited about for the future?
“To grow our Dream Team (volunteers, partners, donors) & serve more Dream Kids = the ability to make a difference.
-Elizabeth Lindsey, Co-founder of DO3

“The Greatest Day of my Life!”

A note from Wendy Batley, mother of our 1st Dream Kid-

May 26, 2013 –

Image

“The greatest day of my life!”

That is how Nicholas described the day.  Even today, he stills talks about it.  That is the day that Dream on 3 made a dream come true! What an amazing group of people involved with Dream On 3.  From the moment we met them, we all felt like VIPs, and on May 26th, they made sure we were treated as such.  To fully understand what this day meant to Nicholas, you must first know what a huge fan Nicholas is of NASCAR.  One of the gifts of being born with Asperger’s is that the brain has an amazing ability to stay focused on one subject and remember so many specific details.  Nicholas can name every driver, car number, sponsor, crew chief, and just about every winner of each of the races.  His dream is to become a commentator for NASCAR, and meet his idol, Darrell Waltrip, a retired driver and current announcer for NASCAR on FOX.

Nicholas was so excited about going to the Coca Cola 600 that day, but had no idea of all the surprises that Dream On 3 had in store for us, with an emphasis on the US, because, while this was Nicholas’ dream, the entire family was included, especially Nicholas’ older sister, Morgan.  That was so amazing because many times, so much emphasis is put on the child with Special Needs that the sibling feels a little left out.  On this day, no one was left out, everyone felt special, and for that, we will always be grateful.

So, about the day…first, a huge limo filled with friends, signs, gifts, and more showed up at our home!  Then the police escorted us all the way to the track.  When we arrived at the speedway, we got our special passes so that we could access all areas.  While walking the infield, Nicholas waved to The King, Richard Petty, and shook hands with Mike Helton, President of NASCAR.  These were two people whom Nicholas recognized right away and felt honored to have seen.  After that, we headed to the motor homes of the drivers, teams, and announcers.  As soon as Nicholas saw the sign that said “Darrell Waltrip”, the smile that had been on his face since the limo pulled up, got even bigger!  We knocked on the door, and out came Nicholas’ idol!  That moment was awesome!  The two of them acted like old friends, with hugs, high fives, and smiles all around.  There were even some tears of joy from those of us honored enough to witness that moment!  One of Nicholas’ favorite parts was getting to say, “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racing boys and Danica!” with Darrell Waltrip.  Pictures, autographs, and more gifts followed.  We could have stayed there all afternoon, but the Dream On 3 team had more surprises planned!

The rest of the prerace surprises included an invitation to the Driver’s Meeting, where Nicholas got to meet some more people, including the guys from Duck Dynasty and our Governor, Pat McCrory.  We then went to Driver Introductions.  Nicholas had a front row spot to give each of the drivers a high five as they exited the stage.  Here, he got to see his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, another dream come true!  After that, we were taken up to the Suites to enjoy the race with food, drinks and headphones for Nicholas so that he could listen in on the teams’ radios as they communicated back and forth during the race.  What a great way to watch the race.  Our limo was waiting for us at the conclusion to return us home.  Everyone fell asleep on the ride home, our dreams filled with amazing memories of the wonderful day!

Words just cannot express how much this day meant to us.  As parents, you love to see your kids happy, having fun, and making lasting memories.  Dream On 3 made that possible that day in May.  So many days are filled with struggles, frustrations, and worries about what will happen in the future, but on that day, there was nothing but happy thoughts, enjoyment, and smiles.  We were so honored to be part of Dream On 3’s first experience, and Nicholas loved being the “pioneer,” as he so appropriately named himself.  Many charities focus on making one time wishes come true, but Dream On 3 focuses on fulfilling dreams and helping kids to continue to follow those dreams.  In the future, when we hear and see Nicholas on ESPN, Fox Sports, or ABC Sports, we will look back to this moment and be grateful for all that was put into this day to make Nicholas’ dream come true and further his dedication to follow his dream!

Thank you to Dream On 3, Darrell Waltrip, Coca Cola, NASCAR, Sprint, Speedway Children’s Charities, and everyone else involved in making this day “the greatest day of (Nicholas’) life!”

-Wendy Batley, Nicholas’ mother