TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 2019): Michael Miller was born with cerebral palsy and periventricular leukomalacia. He’s mostly nonverbal, and uses a wheelchair to get around. His favorite sporting events are car and truck races. Kids Wish Network, a children’s charity that grants wishes for kids with life-threatening illnesses, teamed up with The NASCAR Foundation, Joe Gibbs Racing and Talladega Superspeedway, sending Michael to Talladega to experience races from the Monster Energy cup series and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Upon arrival, the family was greeted by a Joe Gibbs Racing concierge that helped guide the family through their fun-filled weekend. They first met NASCAR star Harrison Burton, who gave Michael a signed 50-year celebration hat. Before the start of the Sugarland Shine 250 Truck Race, the family visited the brand new Talladega garage experience that included race car galleries, food and games, and an open-air jumbotron viewing area. Michael’s favorite part of the garage experience was Iron Alley, a collection of race car galleries that gave him an up close and personal view of some of his favorite race cars, while the pit crews and drivers got ready for the big race. Michael also got a special inside look at some of the Joe Gibbs race car haulers, and saw Kyle Busch’s M&M car up close. The family also met Erik Jones, driver of the number 20 Toyota racer. Erik asked Michael if he “liked to go fast” and Michael smiled.
The next day was the 1000Bulbs.com 500 stock car race. The family watched the race from the grandstands and had amazing seats close to the track. Michael had an exciting time and smiled with glee every time the cars zoomed by. The family had a blast watching the first stage. Later stages of the race were postponed due to bad weather, yet the family’s spirits were cheerful, and they were invited to attend the race the following day. “We’re just so happy we got to be there. Just seeing his excitement was my favorite part,” said Michael’s mom.
“A special thanks to NASCAR, Joe Gibbs Racing and Talladega Superspeedway for coming together to give Michael so many unexpected and joyful moments shared with his family,” said Kids Wish Network Executive Director Tam Lai.