& Guest Blogger, Melissa Gibbs, mommy to Taylor of Taylor’s Finish Line Festival
Smarties, meet Melissa Gibbs, mother of four boys and wife of her junior high sweetheart, J.D. He is the President of Joe Gibbs Racing and the son of NFL Hall of Fame “Coach” Joe Gibbs. Her youngest son, Taylor, is nearing completion of a 3-year treatment protocol for leukemia.
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right? The lemon we were handed over three years ago was a cancer diagnosis for our then two year-old son, Taylor. He has battled that disease into remission with the help of God Almighty and our friends at Levine Children’s Hospital and a three-year regimen of chemotherapy. April 11th of this year marked Taylor’s last treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, the most common of all pediatric cancers. No more daily chemotherapy pills or monthly injections, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirations, painful shots or steroids. No more isolating him from his friends and extended family due to a compromised immune system. The visible ravages of chemotherapy … the bald head, chubby face, and pale, sickly appearance, have vanished entirely, but the cancer is nevertheless a constant reality in our lives. Taylor will be closely watched for relapse over the next 5 years, at which point he will be considered cured! Thanks to recent advances in treatment, Taylor has an 80-90% chance of beating this terrible disease.
So that’s the lemon, where is the lemonade??? Our family trusts that God has a purpose in mind for this trial and we have already witnessed many ways He has used Taylor’s cancer for good. We believe Taylor’s Finish Line Festival is one such example. It will serve as a celebration of Taylor’s victory over cancer while raising funds and awareness for two terrific organizations, Make-a-Wish of Central and Western NC and Levine Children’s Hospital. Both have made a tremendous impact on our family and countless others in providing quality care to chronically ill children. Though we have been blessed thus far with a favorable outcome, we have met so many others in situations far more desperate and our fervent desire is to provide more help and more hope.
And here’s where you Smarty Pants Mommies come in! We need people to buy the lemonade we have been laboring over the past year to make! We have put together an incredible line-up of activities lumped into one big festival to be held at the ZMAX Dragstrip at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 23rd. We have over 40 mechanical rides and inflatables, 3 stages of live entertainment, a Kid Zone with petting zoo, midway games, appearances by several NASCAR drivers, go-carts, a hot air balloon, a gigantic bake sale and auction, and the main stage show which includes BMX trick riders, the Boost Mobile motocross freestyle stunt show, and a concert by Grammy-Award winning Christian artist Toby Mac. General admission tickets are free for Taylor’s friends (those 5 and under) and $25 for all others. The ticket includes all rides, games, and shows. If you won’t be able to attend the festival, but would like to help us advance the care for pediatric cancer patients in our area, log onto www.finishlinefestival.com. You’ll be able to donate online, sponsor a “Wish” child’s attendance to the festival, and bid in our online auction. Anybody looking to rent an inflatable for a birthday party? It’s on there! Any “cool” Moms out there willing to get their kid a motorcycle? It’s on there! Anybody in the market for autographed sports memorabilia? Lots of that on there! You get the idea… We really hope you’ll help us wrap up our experience, tie a pretty bow on it, and offer it back as a gift to the community we have grown to love.
Thanks, Melissa, for reaching out to our Smarty community and for making such an incredible difference in our children’s lives. We will continue to pray for you and your family and will lift up Taylor during his lifetime of remission:-)
What are we waiting for, Smarties?! Taylor’s Finish Line Festival here we come! This event is chock full of fun festivities for the entire fam to enjoy. Make sure you visit the Charlotte Smarty Pants tent, yup, we’ll be there hosting a sand art soiree!