Feature Story

Nick's Dream Becomes Reality

Nick Bingham's favorite sport is NASCAR and his favorite driver is Jeff Gordon. So when the Dream Factory got involved with the 12-year-old special needs student from Tiptonville, Tennessee, there was only one place to go and one person to see. In October, the Dream Factory and PepsiCo helped Nick and his parents travel to Talladega Superspeedway to watch the race and meet Jeff Gordon.

"He had a blast," said his mother Amy Clements. "He hooped and hollered and had a great weekend. He was so excited." The weekend even included help with the legendary Talladega traffic. "We had a great parking place," added Amy. On Sunday morning before the race in the Pepsi hospitality tent, Nick got to listen to Gordon speak and was within a few feet of his favorite driver. Gordon had to leave for the driverís meeting with NASCAR officials before Amy and Nick could get a photo or autograph but that did nothing to dampen Nick's enthusiasm for the weekend. After all, the NASCAR weekend was the culmination of a two-year quest by Nickís family.

Amy had initially contacted the Jeff Gordon Foundation and they referred her to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which is for terminally ill children. Nick did not fit in that category so eventually the Dream Factory was contacted.

"We were initially turned down by them but Pepsi got involved and things got rolling," said Amy. "It involved a lot of red tape and patience." But it proved worth the wait. The weekend proved perfect with almost no expense to the family. About the only negative of the weekend was a disappointing 19th place finish by Gordon.

"Nick didnít care," said his mom. "He had a great weekend. If not for Dream Factory and Pepsi, we wouldnít have gotten there."

Dream Factory is a non-profit organization that grants dreams for chronic or critically ill children. It is funded through donations and also receives help from the United Way. Dream Factory and the Clements family offered a special thanks to Ben Edwards and Burks Beverage for their help with the tickets.

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