A Little Boy’s Wish

Motor Man and I were in Daytona for the entire week leading up to the 2001 Daytona 500.  A friend of ours with “connections” had given us passes to several media events being held that week.

One of those was the IROC (International Race Of Champions) luncheon on Wednesday. A brief background: the IROC race featured identical (except for the color) Chevy Camaros. Drivers from several racing divisions were selected to drive in the IROC race, and a luncheon was held to determine the color car each would drive, as well as his starting position. These were determined by the spin of a wheel.

Motor Man and I were seated at the table with Nascar driver, Jeff Burton, which was fitting, since he’s also a native Virginian.  The IROC race that year was sponsored by True Value, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation was also involved.  After lunch and all the wheel-spinning was complete, the emcee announced that there was a young man there (through Make-A-Wish) whose wish was to meet Dale Earnhardt.  He then asked Earnhardt to please come forward to meet and have his photo taken with this little boy;, I think his name was Travis, although I can’t remember for sure.  But I’ll refer to him in this post as Travis.

Instead of just posing by himself with Travis for all those cameras, Earnhardt asked all the drivers at the luncheon to come forward. He wanted Travis to meet and have his photo taken with all of them. Motor Man and I were impressed that Dale didn’t “hog” that spotlight for himself. I was blinking back tears to the point that Jeff Burton leaned over to us and asked if Travis were our child.

I wasn’t sure if we’d be allowed to take photos at the luncheon, so I only had one of the little disposable cameras in my purse. This isn’t a good picture, but I wanted to share it because it reminds me of the compassion “The Intimidator” showed when meeting that little boy. (That’s Dale in the yellow shirt.)


I’ve blurred out Travis’s face, since, obviously, I don’t have permission to post his picture.  But I’ve always remembered what he said while the photos were being taken: “I’ve always wanted to meet Dale Earnardt, and now I have.”

Motor Man and I were in the stands on Sunday for the Daytona 500. Since our seats weren’t very good, we left early. We decided that we could enjoy the race more by listening to it on the car radio as we started our trip back to Virginia. We were in Savannah when Dale Earnhardt’s death was announced.

One of our first thoughts was of Travis and how his wish had come true.

18 responses to “A Little Boy’s Wish

  1. This gives a very different picture of Dale Earnhardt than the one I remember from his racing…there was a reason he was called “the Intimidator”!
    Thanks for such a touching story!

  2. “Make a Wish” has been there for so many in so many different ways. Each story is unique. What a spontaneous and thoughtful gesture. Thank you for sharing the story and your picture.

  3. What a dear story and lovely memory of that luncheon for you and MM to hold in your hearts. It really was a very generous gesture for DE to include everyone in making Travis’ wish come true “and then some”.


  4. Oh, my, Dianna! I am in tears too, just reading about it! What a wonderful story!

  5. A very sweet story Dianna. And I have tears rolling too.

  6. I just love stories about big, rich and famous people showing kindness to “the least of these, my brothers”. Of course, then I’m running for a kleenex, too. Thanks for sharing your story, Dianna.

  7. Great story. Glad you didn’t tell the one about Tony Stewart. LOL

  8. I think many people would be surprised at the compassion and contributions Dale Sr. shown and made to others. Usually the ones that give from the heart say the least about it.

  9. it is really endearing when a celebrity is just a human being with feelings and empathy. 🙂

  10. I can see why this changed your perspective on him … I had forgotten this story, but remember it now …

  11. It is amazing how God answers prayers! The heart of a man is his soul and very few people really know the celebrity. Children bring out the best in most! Thanks for sharing this with everyone!

  12. a beautiful moment in time; thank you for sharing it with all of us! MJ

  13. what a wonderful story, you hear more and more of it these days!!

  14. I love it when celebrities show heart and class and help make a dream come true for those in need. It’s so great that Dale didn’t hog the spotlight. Awesome. Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience. 🙂

  15. That is a sweet, endearing story and so touching! There certainly was more to that celebrity than just being famous. I’m sure that little boy never forgot his special moment with Earnhardt. What a lovely way for him to be remembered.

  16. Wonderful story! I know this nice gesture really made this boys day!

  17. That was a sad day for the racing world. How special Travis’ wish came true.

  18. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    What a wonderful and touching story about a man who people thought only cared about himself and racing. Thanks for sharing.

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