My dream is to experience a NASCAR race and meet my favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.!
Meet Sam, a 14-year-old with a Need for Speed! Born and raised in Kannapolis, NC, Dream Kid Sam loves anything fast! He also loves the outdoors, where you can often find him hunting, fishing, or playing basketball with friends. Sam has a very strong bond with his parents and his 12-year-old brother John. His Dad, Mark, has been in Scouts with both sons for many years and Mom, Lisa, also has fun getting involved. Sam is 1st class ranking Boy Scout, and has earned 13 merit badges! Each year, the family participates in a 37-mile hike to Camp Barnhardt in the heat of the summer. As tight as this family is, when it comes to sports it is often a house divided! There is an intense Duke vs. UNC division that makes watching basketball very interesting.
Sam lives with autism, this challenge means he must work harder to communicate effectively as well as learn and retain new information. He was also diagnosed with scoliosis in 2015, the severity of his condition has resulted in numerous upper repository infections and Sam is scheduled for back surgery this summer. Despite the challenges Sam is faced with each day, he lives a full and busy life, where he is always eager to help bring joy to his family, teachers, and friends. This caring young man is always the first to help out around the house or in the classroom and although shy at first, he warms up quickly and is quite the jokester!
Dream Kid Sam has many interests, however, he is most passionate about racing! He loves “going fast” and especially loves fast cars and NASCAR. His dream is to experience a NASCAR race and meet his favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sam makes sure to watch every lap of each race in hopes of cheering him on to victory!
On Saturday, October 8, 2016, Dream Kid Sam opened his front door and found the DO3 team which included his buddy, a DO3 summer intern, Chad! A limo provided by American Chauffeured Transportation carried him and the family to his church, Bethpage United Methodist, where members of his church, Boy Scouts Troop, and other friends were waiting to welcome him. His pastor, Duane Melton, and Troop Leader, Josh Knight, both spoke about Sam’s character and how deserving he is to have this experience. Mike Dascal, founder of the 2016 Beers and Burpees Charity Event and Sam’s Dream Sponsor, surprised Sam with the news that he would be meeting his hero, Dale Earnhardt Jr.! He also presented him with a custom NASCAR replica helmet that was made especially for Sam.
The Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Department escorted the limo (with an excited Sam inside) to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The VIP experience continued when Sam arrived at the condo of DO3 friend, Jerry Frakes, with Arrow Disposal. Sam and his family put down their bags and toured the beautiful condo where they would experience the Bank of America 500.
Hurricane Matthew decided to bring a little rain to the Charlotte-area on Saturday causing the race to be postponed however, the entire family kept a positive attitude knowing that beautiful weather was in the forecast for Sunday!
Sunday proved to be a beautiful day with perfect ‘Carolina Blue’ skies! Sam and his family had a busy schedule on Sunday exploring the infield before the race started. First up was a tour of the #88 hauler where Sam met Alex Bowman, the driver who is driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports for the remainder of the 2016 season while Dale Jr. recovers from his concussion.
Next, Sam headed to the driver’s motorcoach area for a private meet and greet with his sports hero, Dale Jr.! Jr. is also from Kannapolis so hometown football was definitely a topic of conversation. Go Wonders! They also discussed turkey hunting and fishing, more things that Sam and Dale Jr. have in common.
Sam was full of excitement after meeting his hero and walked away wearing some new gear signed by Jr. The family headed to driver’s introductions where Sam was side-by-side with all the NASCAR drivers. With an extra few minutes to explore Sam made his way to Pit Road right behind the #88 crew where we stayed for the fly-over and the start of the race!
A delicious lunch from Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ in Concord was enjoyed while the family kicked back in style. Everyone enjoyed the birds-eye-view of the track and even though the #88 car had a tough day, Sam definitely had a dream come true!