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Heroes Come In All Sizes…

Written By: teamcharliebear - Oct• 10•13


This past weekend could not have gone any better for Charlie, Abigail, or myself. Which, if you look at the way the past year…or few years have gone, that’s truly an accomplishment in its own right. Some tragic events did come to pass in the wake of it all. Quite a few friends of mine experienced some form of loss, and for a moment it made it hard for me to focus on the good. However, the truth is I know all too well what loss of every kind feels like thanks to this past year alone. Loved ones, jobs, and even pets have all been casualties of 2013 where I’m concerned, but look at me now! I have to believe that these low points for them are merely stepping stones to their happily ever afters as well. Though I’m sure it doesn’t feel that way and they’d probably slap me for saying so! It’s just the balance of things. We can’t truly appreciate the good without the bad. Oh, and you best believe ….I AM appreciative! Wanna know why? Of course you do…

We went to see the race on Saturday. By “we” I mean myself, my boyfriend of just under 3 years (William), the kids of course..along with my ex-hub (since he had custody those days), and a darling girl named Megan. She babysits special needs children and volunteers on occasion at AFT camps. We were meeting my bosses Rhonda and Karen as well as Karen’s son there. He is 12 and also on the spectrum, and Charlie adores him! So, yes, we had a crowd, and yes, it’s obvious that I was very nervous about how the bear would handle the situation. I wanted as many hands on deck as possible. Allow me to say this now, I am an idiot! I openly refer to myself as “A Hover Mother” and..I’m totally spot on about that.

When we arrived at the gate we could hear the qualifying races taking place inside. Jeff had warned me about the noise before hand and I considered bringing earplugs for myself during the race. I knew it would be really loud in the stands with all the cars going at once. My hope was that during the qualifying races, with only one car allowed on the track at a time, the noise would be at least a bit more manageable for my son. Maybe he could stay just long enough for a few photo opportunities at least so we could have the memory later. Then he and his sister could leave with their Dad if need be and I would fulfill my obligation to AFT. After all, Jeff was racing to raise money for them, and awareness to the cause. Still, I knew I’d never get away with putting anything in his ears or on his head to muffle the noise. He hates things touching his ears. That would insure a meltdown, no doubt! So the walk from the gate to the track was a long one and seemed to lengthen with each glance I made back and forth between the bear and the whistler. It probably looked as though I was watching an invisible ping pong game to most people! I let out a sigh of relief as we found the crew and I realized Charlie still wasn’t holding his ears yet! So far so good I thought.

One of the members escorted us to the track where we met up with Rhonda, Jeff and his spotter Wendi. Still no sign of meltdown and no ear holding. This was beginning to become ok after all. I took pics but Charlie absolutely refused to let go of my hand the whole time. It didn’t make it an easy task but I had a great looking escort..hard to complain for sure! Eventually he had to let go. I had left my boss’s gifts to Jeff and Wendi all the way back at my car and only two of us would fit on the four wheeler to go fetch them. Thank god I didn’t have to walk back though! Charlie almost went ballistic at first when I left him, but … When I got back he and his sister were sitting inside a couple of tires, just chilling. He was still pimped out in Jeff’s sunglasses… O’Neill had offered those up shortly after we got there because he was squinting from the sun. I tried to explain he doesn’t like things touching his face, but before I could finish Charlie was adjusting them and Jeff was laughing at me. He said, “looks like he’s doing fine with it to me”. He was fine with it too! So fine in fact that Jeff never got them back! He wore them after it got dark, and even walked right out the gate with them! Haha! I think he really liked Jeff, and looked up to him… It was pretty cool of him to give him those glasses too! Speaking of cool, we have a ton of pics from the event. So many in fact that I made an album on here for it. You can check those out at your convenience on our album page ;)

As for the race, technically speaking we didn’t win. Our hero caught a bad break with a break leak and had to pull out early, but honestly… I’m just really really glad he didn’t get hurt! There was a car that spun out in front of him at one point and his car tapped it. At the time I didn’t know he didn’t have breaks and I about had a heart attack watching it!! I truly don’t know what I would have done had anything happened to him while he was racing on our behalf. I don’t think I could’ve gotten over it. I worry about the guy all the time as it is. He’s always jumping out of planes and driving fast cars, but this time I was somehow responsible I felt and I’m just glad he is ok… Well sorta anyway. There’s been some fallout and he’s never happy when he doesn’t win, but here’s the way I look at it:

In just about a months time, Jeff managed to raise a little over $3,000.00 for The Autism Foundation of Tennessee. The ONLY place that would talk to me when they found out that Charlie didn’t have insurance! My child was considered uninsurable due to the “pre existing condition of autism”. Which is absurd! He was nonverbal , had almost completely stopped eating, and I was absolutely lost and desperate for help. Every single place I called hung up on me when they got to the insurance question. No joke! Not AFT. They said “we will work with you, we’re here to help”. I broke down in tears. I literally almost hung up outta reflex when they asked about insurance but I’m glad I waited because they said they’d help us! What’s better is they actually meant it! Two years later we are living proof of it. Last night while going thru my wallet I actually found the paper and post it notes I wrote on the day I called them! I can’t wait to show them to Rhonda and Karen today! It will crack Karen up…
My first couple weeks on the job I had post it notes everywhere and misplaced a couple messages. She bought me a notepad to help me get organized. Haha! These post it’s in my wallet with their info will tickle her..they’re SO ME!

My real point here is that whether Jeff realizes it or not, he WON Saturday! He brought a lot of my old classmates together for a cause that is so dear to my heart because it is in my home every day. It is my life, and my family’s life. Thanks to him a lot of them are more educated on the state mandated insurance issues. Thanks to Jeff we raised a good chunk of money for a facility that I KNOW will use it wisely and Charlie…? Well, Charlie went to a RACE! He didn’t hold his ears the entire time! He grew as a kid in ways I never dreamed possible last Saturday and I was in awe… Charlie got a new hero last Saturday in Jeff. I guess I got to be the really lucky one though… I left there with TWO, …but one was much shorter than the other….

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  1. Jenifer Jackson says:

    I am so glad that the race went well and so much money was raised for AFT. I am thrilled that Charlie Bear had a great time and to me it seems like a mile stone experience (the glasses, doing okay with the noise, and even moving past a possible meltdown). I think you, Jeff, and everyone involved are angels for the work you do, the cause you support, and the people you help. Yep, ya’ll are just a few of my heroes!

  2. Kitty Bird says:

    PJ, I’m so full of pride for you that I can’t even put my thoughts into words- knowing the journey all of you have been on this year alone and seeing where you are now-all I can say I God is GOOD.. I’m so proud to call you friend.

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