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A ride to remember
10th annual charity event aims to kick cancer to the curb
1 AMP Ride pic1
Chayton Williams, 12, gives a thumbs-up to signal he is ready for driver Doug Miller to take him around the track in the Ferrari 458. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

Children from across the state gathered together to take a ride worth remembering.

Atlanta Motorsports Park hosted the 10th annual Ferrari Maserati of Atlanta‘s Rides to Remember track day.

Started in 2005 by the dealership's owner following cancer hitting close to his own home, Rides to Remember is a private event that allows pediatric cancer patients the opportunity to experience a carefree day riding around a professional racetrack in exotic sports cars.

"We want a kid to walk up to a car and say, ‘Wow, I want to ride in that.' To see the smile on their faces is worth all the effort," said Will Campbell, general manager of Ferrari Maserati of Atlanta.

"Rides to Remember is meant to be a thrill for them for a day. Their families can all have a great time and not worry about what else is going on in their lives."

The event began at 8 a.m. at the Atlanta dealership, with kids and drivers arriving at the Dawsonville motorsports park at 10 a.m.

"We're just happy to be able to provide a place like this for such a great event," said AMP CEO Jeremy Porter. "They've been coming out here for a few years now and I'm thrilled we can help make this possible just by giving them the space they need."

This year's proceeds, nearly $49,000 total, went to help Camp Sunshine, Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities and CURE Childhood Cancer.

"Rides to Remember is a 100 percent charitable operation, with all donations being given to this year's charitable partners," said Rhonda Ware, partnership supervisor for the event. "The event will provide ample fun and entertainment for the children to enjoy throughout the day."

According to Ware, more than 100 children, ages 8 to 18, were able to ride in exotic sports cars around the track.

"The support from these organizations is fantastic," said Trisha Williams, whose son, Chayton, was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma in 2006. "We're from Dawson County and we've been to so many of these events, but the way this community comes together is just fantastic. We've had so much support and to see an event like this done locally, instead of just in the Atlanta area, is great."

Chayton Williams, now 12 and in remission, said that his laps around the motorsports park were exciting.

"We went around the track really fast," he said. "I had to hold on going around. It was great."

Overall, Campbell said that the event was something for the children, to give them a day off from what is a trying time in their life.

"It was a great day to be able to get out on the track. We couldn't have done it without our drivers' volunteering their time. It isn't possible without them," Campbell said. "This is a fun part for me, because in 10 years, we've seen this event go from grilling hotdogs behind the dealership to what we have today. It's mind-blowing to me."