Happy Smarty Mom Saturday! We introduced you to Melissa Gibbs on Thursday with the Taylor’s Finish Line Festival blog. Melissa is mommy of four boys: Jackson (12), Miller (10), Jason (7) and Taylor (5), who is battling leukemia. Melissa is married to 7th grade sweetheart, JD Gibbs, President of Joe Gibbs Racing and son of NFL Hall of Fame “Coach” Joe Gibbs. Melissa has lived in the Charlotte area for 16 years as an adult and eight years as a child, her alma mater elementary is Albemarle Elementary. Melissa considers herself a “professional mom”, we couldn’t agree more!
Let’s get to know Melissa Smarty style!
How did you make Taylor’s Finish Line Race a reality?
My sister and I came up with the idea while laying on a beach over Mother’s Day weekend in 2009. When JD and I began to put legs to the idea, we envisioned something pretty small at our race shop. When Marcus Smith offered (without even being asked) the Dragstrip during Speed Week as a venue, the whole event went beyond the next level. The people at the Speedway have enabled the festival to balloon into it’s current form.
What are your goals with the event?
We hope to raise $600,000 to be split evenly between Levine Childrens’ Hospital and our local Make-a-Wish chapter. We also have big hopes for the evangelism component of the festival which includes the Toby Mac concert and the testimonies of a team of Christian BMX trick riders.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from going through the experiences you have?
I feel like I have a much better handle on the purpose of suffering in life. Not that it is any more enjoyable, but it is certainly more bearable knowing that it is purposeful and useful to God and never just random, senseless bad luck. God saw Taylor’s cancer coming and permitted it, for many reasons we now see and many more that will be revealed in Heaven.
What advice do you have for other families facing the battle of a lifetime with children’s cancer?
Recognize that the situation is bigger than you and that you do not hold life and death in your hands. As my oncologist said in the very early stages of treatment, “Taylor is either going to be healed , or he isn’t”, meaning that we needed to do the best we could but that his fate was not resting in any particular decision that we made, hospital we selected, treatment protocol we chose, or any number of glitches or mistakes made along the way. It took the pressure off of us to realize that it was silly to put our hope in our ability to make him well. When you acknowledge that, your prayer life goes to a whole new place and your anxiety is somewhat alleviated.
Moving on to lighter things, how do you make time for yourself and what is your favorite thing to do when you make that time?
I’m a scrapbooking nerd and love to go to the Saturday night crops at the Scrap Shack in Mooresville but I just found out they are closing!!! I need a new spot!
What is your favorite date-nightspot?
131 Main or Prickly Pear for dinner and a show at the Blumenthal would be my ideal date night
What is your favorite place to take the whole fam to dinner?
A Japanese steakhouse
Favorite family activity?
tubing on the lake
Best birthday party you’ve ever hosted or attended?
Taylor’s third birthday party which was also a big “coming out” party as he had been pretty sequestered for the previous 9 months due to the intensity of his chemo protocol; it was a “Cars” party and we set up a mini radiator Springs with “Flo’s Cafe`” as an ice cream shop, “Ramone’s Paint & Body” as a temporary tattoo parlor, and a slot car track for McQueen’s big race. We went all out as it was so much more than a birthday party. It was a celebration of LIFE!
Favorite family vacation spot?
ski trips in the mountains
Minivan or SUV?
Best book that you’ve read lately?
Currently reading Billy Graham’s autobiography and Francine River’s new release “A Mother’s Hope”
Best movie that you have seen lately?
Would you believe it’s Furry Vengeance?!
Funniest thing that your children have ever said or done?
If disturbingly gross is funny (and it is when you live in a house full of boys) it would have to be the time we were eating at Cheeseburger in Paradise when my then 6 year old son came out of the bathroom with his big brothers and announced that he had completed the dare and LICKED THE TOILET SEAT. People often ask what it is like to have four boys and I think that story sums it up nicely.
What is Charlotte’s best kept secret?
Tenders; it’s the fresh “fast food” sister of 131 Main and they serve organic chicken and homemade lemonade and apple slices with caramel dipping sauce and awesome milkshakes. When we have to do fast food, it’s one of only two places I’ll go. Jason’s Deli is the other…
I wish someone told me sooner about…
…how maraschino cherries are made and other upsetting tales of food additives and preservatives
I could not live without my…
Thanks again, Melissa! We’ve really enjoyed getting to know you and your beautiful family. Smarties, make plans to attend the Taylor’s Finish Line Festival next Sunday – it’s sure to be a great time for your entire fam and all for an incredible cause, children’s cancer research.