SNELLVILLE, Ga. -- On a sunny afternoon in suburban Atlanta, an 8,000 horsepower NHRA Funny Car and drivers Melanie Troxel and Frank Haley had the rapt attention of special kids from the Dream House for Medically Fragile Children, their siblings,...
SNELLVILLE, Ga. -- On a sunny afternoon in suburban Atlanta, an 8,000 horsepower NHRA Funny Car and drivers Melanie Troxel and Frank Haley had the rapt attention of special kids from the Dream House for Medically Fragile Children, their siblings, parents and Dream House staff.
Troxel will drive the special Gotham City Racing Dream House Dodge Charger R/T in this weekend's national event at Commerce, Ga., and Hawley will be at the controls of the ProCare Rx Dodge Charger.
Troxel happily gave up her accustomed seat inside the car for a spot on the front wheel while she signed autographs and the grinning children took turns sitting behind the wheel.
Hawley, meanwhile, roamed the area, visiting with the kids and their parents. And he surprised the children when they asked him for an autograph. He asked them to sign his Dream House hat and told them he was going to wear it during race weekend "so some of them will be able to see their names on TV," Hawley told the parents.
"I have a lot of admiration for the kids' parents and caregivers," said Hawley. "The kids have great attitudes. All of them have serious problems, but they look 100 percent happier than the drag racers do after they've lost in the first round. It's a lesson everyone needs to learn. I'm taking it home and sticking it in my heart."
Troxel, likewise, was moved by the kids.
"It was amazing to meet (Dream House founder) Laura Moore and hear her story about how she began working for this cause -- to help these kids and make sure they had homes and people to take care of them," said Troxel. "I think we all enjoyed spending time with the kids and talking to them about the race car. That was probably the best part of the day, getting the opportunity to hang out with the kids. I think we may have had as much fun, or more, than they did.
"It was great. It's not often these kids get the opportunity to see a race car up close and personal like that. We made sure each one of them had the opportunity to sit in the car and we answered all their questions about it. I think it went over real well."
Gotham City Racing co-owners Roger Burgess and Mike Ashley are hosting a fund-raising dinner and drag racing memorabilia auction for Dream House Saturday night at the Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga. All proceeds go to Dream House.
Dream House for Medically Fragile Children, Inc. is a diligent advocate for a little known population in Georgia -- medically fragile children. Their numbers are growing exponentially due to life-saving medical advances made in the last decade that now allow these children to survive. Dream House offers unique programs and services that enable families to care for these children in their own homes. This gives children with complicated medical conditions a chance to be part of a loving home where they are valued and cared for effectively. Dream House is a state-wide resource that empowers communities to help keep these families together.
Since 2001, Dream House has served over 800 family members caring for more than 795 medically fragile children in 37 of 159 Georgia counties. Dream House aims to improve the quality of life for these children and their families, dramatically reduce the number of medically fragile children in foster care, and in doing so, save the State of Georgia, its tax payers and healthcare institutions millions of dollars each year.