HOUSTON, Texas- A little boy facing a life-threatening illness enjoys the wish of his life meeting NASCAR driver, Ricky Carmichael, through Kids Wish Network.
One of eight-year-old Luis’ favorite things to do is to watch motorcycles and NASCAR races on television. When a Kids Wish Network professional fundraiser called Luis’ mother, Miryam, she had no idea that this one phone call would bring the excitement of racing right to her amazing little boy.
At eighteen months old, Luis was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. SMA is a motor neuron disease that affects all of the muscles in the body. Just last year, Luis suffered through two surgeries for muscle weakness. He is also confined to a wheelchair, needs constant assistance and must endure frequent breathing treatments.
Once Miryam told the Kids Wish Network representative about her little boy and his situation, it didn’t take long for them to get Wish Coordinator, Jen, and Wish Funding Specialist, Doris, on the case. While Luis told Jen about his wish to meet his racing hero, Ricky Carmichael, Doris was speaking to some very special sponsors about making the little boy’s dream come true.
When it came time for his wish to be granted, Jen arranged not just the meeting with his favorite NASCAR driver, but also an entire weekend of “high-octane” racing fun for Luis and his family!
The timing for Luis’ wish couldn’t have been better; only a week following his eighth birthday, Luis got to meet his hero, Ricky Carmichael prior to watching him compete in a race at the Texas Motor Speedway! “It was the perfect birthday present,” said Miryam. “He was very excited and really happy.”
Once Luis and his family arrived at the track, they were escorted all around the garage areas where Luis marveled at all of the cars, drivers and pit crews. He was truly thrilled but even this excitement was overshadowed when he finally met Ricky Carmichael.
The famous driver spent some quality one-on-one time with the little boy, talking to him, signing autographs and just enjoying Luis’ company. They even exchanged gifts! Ricky presented a very special cap and t-shirt to Luis, who, in turn, gave the driver a mini digital picture frame with a few pictures to remember him by and some handmade beaded gifts with both of their names on them.
It was the handmade gifts that pleased the famous driver the most. “It’s a good day for me,” Ricky exclaimed as he was given his present. No one had done anything like that for him before!
Luis met up with Ricky again before attending the exclusive pre-race drivers’ meeting, where Luis witnessed all the ins and outs of getting ready for a big race. It was a really special addition to an already fantastic weekend, and it wasn’t even over yet!
During the big NCWTS Winstar World Casino 400 race, Luis cheered the hardest he had ever cheered for Ricky Carmichael. It was almost as though Ricky was racing just for him. “I was so happy because he was SO happy,” said Miryam of her little boy. “He [Luis] was just amazed to see him in the race.”
At the end of the weekend, after yet another day at the track watching Indy Car racing, Luis did not want to leave. “He didn’t want to come back,” said Miryam. “He said, ‘Mom, can we stay just one more day?’”
Now that they’re home, Luis has been telling as many people as he can about his wish trip. Miryam said that Luis “told one of the doctors and was showing off his [signed] hat…he’s still excited!” Luis’ meeting with his NASCAR idol is something that will keep him in high spirits for years to come, and that’s all Jen and everyone else at Kids Wish Network could ask for.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Luis’ wish extra special: Ricky Carmichael, VFW 8905 Thompson-Patton Post, Baylor College of Medicine Medical Student Council, The Texas Motor Speedway, The Hilton Southlake Town Square and The Cheesecake Factory.
Kids Wish Network is a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to infusing hope, creating happy memories, and improving the quality of life for children. If you know a child between the ages of 3 and 18 who may be in need of its wish granting services, please call 727-937-3600 or toll free 888-918-9004. For more information on Kids Wish Network, visit their website at www.kidswishnetwork.org