Joliet, Illinois – Kurt Busch made a racing fan's Dream come true at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16th. Ray Rhoades, 64, is a patient of Passages Hospice in Clinton, Illinois. As a younger man, Rhoades was a fearless driver who friends dubbed “Crazy Ray” for the risks he took to win. Over the last four decades, Rhoades has raced on tracks from Illinois to Georgia.
“He lives, breathes, eats and sleeps racing,” said his niece, Bonnie Fisher, who remembers her uncle rolling his car several times as he attempted to overtake an opponent.
Rhoades even raced with old NASCAR favorites like Rusty Wallace and Kenny Shrader before his cancer became so advanced. Instead of the driver's seat, Ray now watches races from his armchair. But his excitement for the sport hasn't faded one bit.
With the help of his nurses, Rhoades submitted a request for a day at the track to the nonprofit organization Hospice Dreams. Hospice Dreams, based in Bradley, Illinois, grants wishes for adult hospice patients as a way to improve their quality of life and help families make important memories together.
After learning that his favorite driver is Kurt Busch, Hospice Dreams made the outing extra special by arranging an exclusive meet-and-greet. Busch and Rhoades met near the staging area and spent nearly half an hour swapping stories about their favorite races. Before saying goodbye, Busch left Rhoades with autographed pictures and items to take home. And although Busch would go on to finish 32nd in the race, Rhoades says he will always appreciate Busch's kindness.
“I really have a new respect for Kurt. He was so real and down to earth,” Rhoades said.
Rhoades and his family also enjoyed a trackside cookout and a visit to the pit, courtesy of local manufacturer EJ Equipment, which generously donated tickets to the day's events. A pre-race Luke Bryan concert and comfortable shaded seats to watch the race capped off the once-in-a-lifetime experience for Rhoades.
“I couldn't dream of anything that would've made me happier than I am today,” he said.
For more information about Hospice Dreams please visit www.hospicedreams.org or call toll-free 888-741-9132.
-About Hospice Dreams-
Hospice Dreams was founded to fulfill unmet wishes and improve quality of life for hospice patients and their families. Hospice Dreams is a non-profit organization and 501(c)(3) charitable group. The Foundation is supported by memorial donations and through partnerships with generous corporate sponsors. For more information about Hospice Dreams, please visit www.hospicedreams.org.
Kaitlyn Henderson is the Communications Manager for Hospice Dreams, a non-profit organization that grants wishes to adult hospice patients. She regularly contributes stories about the Dream events to various media outlets to thank donors and sponsors for their generosity. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.