As a devoted NASCAR fan, eighteen-year-old Ashley of Jeannette, PA, has attended many races. After considering the endless possibilities of her ultimate wish, Ashley, who is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, decided that she wanted to see the racing action up close as a member of NASCAR driver Bobby Labonte's pit crew. As soon as she found out her wish would be granted, she was geared up and ready to fly to Charlotte, N.C., for the 2009 All-Star NASCAR race.
Accompanying Ashley on her thrilling adventure were her mom, dad and sister. From the moment they arrived in Charlotte, Ashley had a huge smile on her face. Right after her plane landed, Ashley and her family were invited to spend several hours at the NASCAR track watching the pit crew train for the upcoming race. Finally, Ashley was called over and had the opportunity to jack up a racecar and change the lug nuts on its tires. There were a few crew members who were actually worried that this naturally skilled young lady would leave them jobless! Ashley then ventured into the area where the racecars are built and got to sit behind the wheel of one of Labonte's cars. The next day, she also watched her pit crew participate in a Pit Crew Challenge against other pit crews, pushed a racecar onto the track and toured the garage.
Though Ashley was loaded with extreme amounts of fun to fill her time, the greatest part about her experience was spending time with her favorite driver. Ashley showered Labonte with gifts, including a Pittsburgh Penguins towel, bracelet, a picture of her wearing a shirt with his autograph on it and "Walk for Ashley" T-shirts. In return, Labonte and the pit crew made sure she was fully outfitted in a hat, belt, gloves and a team uniform shirt.
Among many unforgettable moments, Ashley was both surprised and honored to be introduced with the pit crew during a ceremony before a truck race and could not believe she was allowed to stay in the pit throughout the entire race. Afterward, Labonte and his crew took her for her own special ride around the track. The whole experience was very memorable for everyone and the pit crew even told Ashley that she and her family are now a part of their family. Ashley's mom thought that her wish was truly amazing and expressed that it was so much more than they ever dreamed it would be. Best of all, Ashley was so happy and appreciative of all of the great things she did and all of the wonderful people she met.