NASCAR wish granted

Kaley Corbin, 11, of Augusta, enjoys her wish trip to NASCAR’S Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup Series in Charlotte, N.C., with her mom, Cathy (left), and their friend Connie Everheart.

When asked what her million-dollar wish was, 11-year-old Kaley Corbin wanted a trip to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The trip to the races is precisely what she got, through the Children’s Wish Foundation International Inc.

Kaley, a resident of Augusta, was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia, a cancer of the blood or bone marrow, on June 6, 2005. Through the Children’s Wish Foundation, she and her mom, Cathy Corbin, her mom’s friend Connie Everheart and Connie’s brother David Thompson, all of Augusta, left on May 22 for Charlotte, N.C., where the race was held.

Kaley’s affinity with NASCAR stems from her mother’s interest. From the time she was 3 or 4 years old, Kaley said she was a die-hard Jeff Gordon fan. Although her tastes have since changed, Cathy said they never miss a race on Sundays.

“Well, my favoritist one of all is Jimmy Johnson, but I just started liking Kasey Kahne,” said Kaley, when asked about her favorite drivers.

Upon arriving in Charlotte, Kaley was supposed to go meet Matt Kenseth, but after not finding the designated spot, they went and ate dinner and then went swimming at their hotel. The next couple of days were filled with the race and amusement parks.

“Well at the theme park we went on rides and I liked that too, but the race,” said Kaley when asked what activity was her favorite, “it was pretty loud and exciting and hot. We sat in row 59.”

Cathy was pleased with the whole weekend.

“Seeing her face at the race was worth $1,000,” said Cathy.

Currently, Kaley is in remission and has had numerous spinal taps in addition to the medication she takes. Cathy said that since she was diagnosed, they have had to make many changes in their lives.

“When I found out about her cancer, I was horrified. Everything has been reversed and there have been lots of changes,” said Cathy. The Corbins have worked with Children’s Wish since August 2006 to get Kaley’s wish granted.

Children with terminal illnesses are referred to the Children’s Wish Foundation through doctors, hospitals or anyone who knows of a child who deserves to get his wish granted. When Kaley’s family heard about Children’s Wish, they went online and completed a form to refer a child. The form asked for information about her situation and what her top three wishes would be, seeing Jeff Gordon or Jimmy Johnson made up the first two, and the third was meeting the cast of the “Saddle Club,” which is a television show about girls and their horses.

Brenda Webber, the director of public relations at Children’s Wish, said that the organization’s goal is to grant the wishes of those children under 18 years old who have a life-threatening illness.

“We work on granting the children’s own wishes, and anyone that wants to go with them can go,” said Webber.

Although Children’s Wish does not usually send a representative along with the children, Kaley and her family were accompanied by Rebecca Murphy, a corporation and foundation specialist with Children’s Wish. Murphy has worked for the donor-based company for 1 1/2 years and has traveled along with three children who have had their wishes granted.

“Children’s Wish is a passion of mine,” said Murphy. “Kaley was so excited and took so many pictures and she just couldn’t stop smiling. I felt like she really got exactly what she wanted and that was great.”

Unfortunately, NASCAR didn’t permit anyone under 18 years old in the pits at the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but another trip to meet the drivers is being planned.

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