Feature Story

Jeff and Rick Visit Mobile

By Marcy Beasley

For weeks, I wanted to open up one of those gifts under the tree that had my name on it. But my parents continued to say no. Then one fine Monday morning, they greeted me at the bottom of the stairs with an envelope. I opened the envelope with my hair a mess and my eyes half closed from still being asleep. I had to read it three times before I realized what was going on. Inside were tickets to the GMAC Mayor's Luncheon in Mobile, Alabama on December 19 where Jeff Gordon was going to be the guest speaker. It was exciting because my mom told me that she didn't get tickets, but there they were in my hand.

I didn't think I would get very close to Jeff because several of our customers (I work at a NASCAR retail shop) told us that he was going to get together with a group of children suffering from Leukemia before the luncheon then afterwards was going to go out to the local DuPont plant. Those same customers told us that Rick Hendrick would be the grand marshall of the Greer's Food Tiger Mardi Gras Parade before the GMAC Bowl game. My excitement grew when it hit me that he would be there too. It was going to be great to see a first hand account of how he is truly feeling and I hoped that he would look great.

The first sign of trouble was when my father and I drove up to the convention center only to be stopped by a train passing by. It almost made us late, but we were right on time. Ricky Hendrick's GMAC Chevrolet was on display, and I thought how much I would rather have that car in our store than the #2 that sits there... but I digress. When the dignitaries walked out to take their seats, the first one I saw was broadcaster Jerry Punch. He looked different without his glasses. He was the emcee of the event and introduced each speaker.

Everyone sat down to eat and it got louder in there as the cheerleading squads from both teams appeared to get the crowed hyped up. Finally, Jeff got ready to speak. He did seem to go back to a written speech but he tried to make it off the cuff a little bit. He said several times that he wasn't a speaker nor did he admit to following the event (college football) for which the luncheon was held. At points he was at a loss for words, especially when that lady wearing a Tony Stewart shirt walked up the middle of the isle to take his picture. He stopped for a minute and then went on with his speech like the pro he has become.

Rick didn't give a speech but he looked great. I told my father I don't know what I was more excited about, seeing Jeff or seeing Rick looking so great. Several of us at the table said that unless you had known he had battled leukemia, you wouldn't have known it from looking at him that day. I will always remember how he looked that day- glad to be back where he belonged. It was the best Christmas present I've ever gotten. Now if I can only get them to let me open another... but I can wait.

Jeff and Mayor Dow
Jeff chats with Mobile Mayor Mike Dow

Rick Hendrick and Jerry Punch
Rick Hendrick and Jerry Punch

Rick Hendrick
Rick Hendrick looks out at the crowd

Jeff Gordon Online

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