“with a little bit of autism.”
Rylie’s Story written by her mother, Tracie Fox:
For most 13 year old girls a trip to the mall is a fun event. It holds the prospect of maybe a new outfit for the first day of school, meeting up with friends or a new pair of shoes. For my 13 year old daughter with autism, a trip to the mall is simply exhausting. There are too many bright lights, colors, clutter, scratchy fabrics and choices. A two hour trip to the mall often requires a nap on the way home in the car to reset and not feel so overwhelmed. Having a diagnosis of autism is broad and can encompass many things. Rylie has high functioning autism and she always says she just has a ‘little bit of autism’. Primarily, she has speech and language limits, sensory issues and social anxiety. As a family we have learned to find a ways around the first two, but the social anxiety is the most difficult. So as a family, we are always looking for activities and events we can all enjoy. Enter Elko Speedway and the Nick Beaver Racing Team! My husband and I attended a couple of races with Nick’s Aunt and Uncle when they would come from Wisconsin to watch Nick race. I noticed that Elko Speedway was a family environment and provided entertainment that would appeal to all ages and genders, as well as great racing. On a quiet summer Saturday night in 2013, we decided to bring Rylie and her sister to Elko Speedway and see what they thought. During the short drive, we prepared Rylie for the loud cars and crowds, solving each of them by telling her she would sit between her dad and I and we would get earplugs to drown out the noise. During each race her and I would pick out our favorite color car or if there were girl drivers that would be who we’d cheer for. Of course, in the Big 8’s we cheered for Nick. Rylie was hooked, and looked forward to going to the races again! During one of the first couple visits to the pits after the races, we stopped in to say hello to Nick and his team. Nick was standing at the rear of his car signing his trading cards and offered to sign one for Rylie. She thought that was pretty cool…and he signed her checkered flag too! Not only did she feel special, she felt noticed! I don’t think we missed many Saturday nights at the racetrack after that. From Nick’s trading card she learned all his statistics and thought he was cute too. Then when Nick won a feature race we left our seats and went to congratulate him in Victory Lane! To our surprise, we were invited to join in the crew picture. Mike, Nick’s Crew Chief and Dad, said he would get us a copy of the photo, but did much more than that! Nick autographed it and thanked us for our support and Mike and Jennifer personally delivered the framed photo! We were so grateful for the act of kindness and thought it was pretty cool! In the days following, Rylie asked a lot of questions as to why Nick and his team would do something like that for us. The only thing to say was that they were good, kind people and they simply appreciated us coming to the track to cheer them on. Over the winter Rylie counted down the days until opening day…. she was excited to spend Saturday nights cheering Nick and his team on.
The 2014 season started out pretty soggy with many race nights being rained out. Over the winter Nick had gotten a new sponsor, Kan Do, and had new promotional items like hats and trading cards. During our visits to the pits after the races, the team made sure Rylie got autographed copies of it all! Again, they took a few minutes to notice her and she felt accepted and a part of something. Nick and his crew greeted every fan with enthusiasm, but in more than one instance she was referred to as their biggest fan! It didn’t come from just Nick and his Crew Chief, but also from members of the crew that we happened to meet at the concession stand too. I am certain they didn’t realize the impact this had on Rylie. The social anxiety keeps her from engaging in conversation and so she stands in the back and observes. But three simple words “our biggest fan” meant the world to her. Given the choice to do an activity or stay home, she almost always would choose staying home. But, every Saturday morning she looks up the weather forecast and gives us a report on the chances of watching Nick race that night. As her parents, seeing her excitement and anticipation to go to Elko and be Nick’s biggest fan is pure joy for us. I believe Nick, Mike, Skip, Joanne, Evan, Jacob and the rest of the crew are good, kind hearted and generous souls and set out to be good role models of racing families and just do all the right things. So as Rylie’s mom, I had to take the opportunity to let them know by writing a note of thanks for their kindness. Now they knew the impact they have had on Rylie by simply being kind and we, her parents, were very grateful. It seems that note had an impact on them too. The next two weeks we were on vacation but kept track of what was happening at the track in our absence. That first Saturday we were gone, Nick won the feature race and Rylie and I jumped for joy in our tiny hotel room! Little did we know the plans Nick and the team had for that feature win trophy. When we returned to the track that next Saturday Rylie wanted to be assured that everything would be back to normal and we would just stop in, say hi and be on our way! The team had other plans…they presented Rylie with the trophy from their last feature win and a team jersey for being their biggest fan! I cried, she was in shock and speechless! I think I prompted her to say thank you a thousand times, we were all at a loss for words because of this huge kind gesture! On the way home Rylie asked a million times why…the only answer I could think of was that they are just simply nice people. Although being the center of attention is not her favorite place to be, her genuine beautiful smile said it all. She felt special and noticed and she belonged to something great. For the next week the trophy went wherever she did in the house. It sat on the couch next to her while watching TV and any fingerprints were buffed away so it was always shiny. Now, it has a special place on a shelf in her room with all of the Nick Beaver racing team photos, trading cards and autographed Kan Do hats. As the 2014 season winds to a close, we will miss our Saturday nights at Elko and cheering on the Nick Beaver Racing team and the countdown to 2015 will start.
The Beaver Racing Team tells their story about Rylie and the Fox family, written by Joanne Zacharias, who is the Owner of My KD Company LLC and the Beaver Racing Teams Sponsor:
The Beaver Racing Team knows the importance of building a fan base. In 2011 Nick Beaver started racing in the Big 8 Series at Elko Speedway. From the start, Nick wanted to be known as a clean driver and from his on-track respect that he had earned, it has carried over to the off-track respect of everyone. Slowly fans started to show their interest in Nick and along the way one fan in particular stands out above all others. Rylie Fox a 13 year old girl along with her parents Tracie and Brian. This family was introduced to the Beavers and a lifelong journey had begun. At every race the Fox family came to cheer Nick on and afterwards came into the pits to say hello and congratulate Nick Beaver and the Beaver Racing Team. Nick and his team always acknowledged Rylie and her family and she became our biggest fan! Each time she and her family would share a little more information with our crew. We learned that Rylie has high functioning autism and social anxiety. We had no idea and just thought she was shy. As the Beaver Racing Team learned of this information, they took it upon themselves to always make her feel special and include her any way possible.
The Beaver Racing Team got a new sponsor for 2014. Joanne Zacharias is the Owner of My KD Company LLC. The KD stands for ‘Kan DO, Don’t Tell Me I Kan’t” and this fits perfectly for the Beaver Racing Team. Joanne had lots of racing merchandise made for the fans of Nick Beaver. DTMK (Don’t Tell Me I Kan’t) hats, Kan Do hats, and racing jerseys. We started handing out this merchandise to all of our fans that would stop by the pits after the races. We made sure that Rylie and her family got one of each since she is our biggest fan and has touched our hearts the most!
Nick and his team had decided that the next time that he won the feature they would give the trophy to Rylie. Also, the Beaver Racing Team had already ordered customized Beaver Racing pit shirts to make them official members of our team. When they got back from their vacation boy did we have a surprise for them! In the pits after the races the Fox family stopped by and we presented Rylie with the Big 8 Feature Trophy that Nick had won and gave them their official pit shirts. They were in tears because they were so surprised and shocked that we would do something like this for them. We cried too because we are so internally grateful for this bond that has been created between our two families.
As this year’s racing has come to an end at Elko Speedway, our lifelong friendship with the Fox family will continue. We have big plans for our #10 car this winter and we plan on coming back strong next year. We will continue to be in touch with Rylie and her family through the winter and include them whenever possible in our winter activities. We cannot thank the Fox family enough for constantly standing by our side and cheering us on. Our hearts have been deeply touched by Rylie, her story, and her family. Now she and her family are part of our story, our journey, and forever in our hearts.
Nick Beaver and the Beaver Racing Team felt it necessary to write this story since our hearts have been touched hopefully yours will be too!
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