January 2017, Ben raced his "Watermelon Of Doom" car and came in 2nd place in his division, the Tiger Cub Division. Very impressive for a 1st timer. With this win, Ben advanced to the district wide race. When we took his "WOD" car to register for the race, we were informed that if he placed in this race, he would advance to the World Championship in NEW YORK CITY. We laughed and replied "Yeah, right", never having another thought about it.
May 20, 2017, we arrived at the Church were the race was being held. It was awesome!!! Checkered flags everywhere and a huge 8 lane track right down the middle of the gym with chairs set up on both sides for the spectators. The MC, Tom, was GREAT!!!! His enthusiasm was off the charts. He wanted every child cheered on because they were all winners. He wanted all the boys to line up in a hallway and when he introduced each racer, they were to break through a paper runner and run down a tunnel of awaiting parents ready to high-five each contestant and cheer them unto victory. I position myself about 10 ft away from where the boys would be running through and I waited. Waited for my son to break through the paper, ready to cheer him on.
But when his name was called, he peeked over the paper and just looked. Looked at all strange people screaming and yelling and waiting for his entrance. For Ben, there was no entrance, just chaos. You see, Ben has Autism. And when he saw all the "chaos" on the other side of that paper, he freaked out and did his "fight or flight" reaction. He took off and I just stood there, my heart on the floor. Tearing up at this point as people yelled and screamed for him to come out. Then just to hear the sneering voices and comments wondering what his problem was. I am use to it. Those reactions are common and happen more often than not. I've developed such a thick skin but it still hurts, that's my baby.
After he was able to calm down and the beginning ceremony was over, it was time to race. He was still in an agitated state but was able to pull it together when his name was announced to retrieve his car and place it on the track. In between races he would run laps around the outside of the gym, in the dark hallways, to regroup and calm himself. There were 32 heats and he raced 8 times, including getting to go head to head with his older brother who was racing his car as well. After about an hour and a half, Ben was getting tired and ready to go. I keep telling him just a little longer, we're almost finished. Then after several minutes, which does seem like hours when your kid is on the verge of a "full on" melt down, Tom (the MC) called all the Tiger Cubs up to the front of the stage to announce the winners. Ben's dad had been helping up on stage DJ- ing for Tom. As the boys were walking up to stage, he called me on the phone and said "you're not going to believe this....Ben won."
I couldn't believe it. I scampered to the stage to make sure Ben was there and someone that knew who I was told me where the best place would be for me to get pictures of Ben getting his Medal. They announced 3rd place, then 2nd and finally it came time to announce the Winner....My heart dropped as I heard Ben's name being announced. The look on that child's face was priceless. Something I will never ever ever forget. Tears came to my eyes and it was now my turn to hold it together.
There has not been very many times when Ben has actually participated in events, let alone win. At school, at sports ... nothing. However, there is one exception though....one organization that he loves and does participate in no matter what....Cub Scouts. He will tell you that he is a Cub Scout and then he will be a Boy Scout and then he will be an Eagle Scout. And he says it very matter of factly. He has a goal, a plan. It is something he truly wants, and he is hard-headed enough that he may just pull it off.
So with this win, he has been invited to participate in the World Pinewood Derby Championship in New York City on Jun 24, 2017. It would be the most AWESOME experience for him to participate in that race, and this campaign will hopefully help us get there. We priced it out and this should cover the flights, including an extra set of eyes to help me keep an eye on Ben, lodging, and food, and maybe a trip to the museum to see some dinosaurs. He goes to therapy 2- 3 days per week for 2 hrs at a time so this would also be an incredible break for him as well.
We would love for you to share Ben's story and wish him luck. Thank You soo Much for your support!!!!
- Carolyn Tarantino
- Helen Marak Walker
- Gabe Ornelas
- Mr Dennis
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