Sounds of powerful engines revving filled the air Saturday, Sept. 18 on the track of Atlanta Motorsports Park.
A kaleidoscope of colorful Ferraris, Maserati’s and other luxury sports cars lined up to wait for their passengers, all who were pediatric cancer patients and survivors. Kids and their parents looked on to see which car they wanted to ride in as squeals of excitement could be heard.
They were there as part of Ferrari of Atlanta’s 15th annual “Rides to Remember,” giving childhood cancer patients exciting rides in exotic sports cars and providing financial support to local charities, including Atlanta Ronald McDonald House, Cure Childhood Cancer, and Camp Sunshine.
“This event gives these kids good memories during a trying situation, and this is something that they look forward to all year long,” President and CEO of the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Beth Howell said. “When kids can be themselves and have fun, despite going through the unimaginable, it really is joyful. This is how these kids and their families see people care about them.”
Upon entry into the event, children were given a passport book to complete as they made their way around the complex. This event was “spy-themed” as James Bond and his Bond girl waved and gave photo opportunities to all. Upbeat music played as guests admired the donation of miniature model cars that were provided for the kids, including Bond’s car, an Aston Martin DB5.
Coming back from his turn around the track, leukemia patient Israel said he thought the event was “so great he couldn’t think” and that he “loved riding in the blue Ferrari.”
“I’m glad to be here with other parents and kids who can relate to each other and also enjoy these cars,” Israel’s father, Richard Everett, said.
Araceli Barrientos, mother to six-year-old cancer patient Axel, said she was glad the event was able to happen this year and Axel added he was “having the best time.”
Rides to Remember brought not only pediatric cancer patients and survivors but supporters of children’s causes and car enthusiasts. A passionate supporter, Andrew Guerrier, of Lake Hartwell, said his family made coming to Rides to Remember a tradition of theirs.
“To be able to give these kids this unique experience to remember is a great investment and it’s fun for them and for the whole family,” Guerrier said.
Susan Woodell, the wife of driver Richard Woodell, tagged alongside her husband, owner of a 2010 red California Ferrari, because she loved watching the event unfold.
“It is very humbling and that there is nothing like the smile on a child’s face,” Woodell said. “It’s irreplaceable. The car itself is really nothing unless you can experience it with someone you love and care about.”
In addition to the rides around the track, guests could be seen playing cornhole, giant jenga and connect four. There was also a crafty booth for kids to leave a handprint on canvas. Although the day started out grey and cool, the sun eventually shone and warmed things up and people flocked to the popsicle vendor on site, King of Pops.
Great care and consideration was taken, as dozens of kids and their families left Atlanta Motorsports Park that day grinning from ear to ear. Rides to Remember, declassified, was sure to have ignited a spark in a generation full of courageous, future spies.