When Julie Moores, Regional Director of Business Development for Heartland Hospice serving Southern Ohio heard about patient, Joan Campbell’s “bucket list” wish to see or meet Dale Earnhardt Jr. she knew she had to do everything in her power to make this meeting happen for this local Seaman, Ohio resident.
Joan’s love of NASCAR started in the 1980’s. Watching races on television was a family affair for Joan and her two sons. “I remember mom proudly wearing a leather Earnhardt Sr. hat on race days,” commented her son, Chris. When Joan’s son, Michael passed away at the age of 33 from cystic fibrosis, he was buried with a great deal of Earnhardt Sr. memorabilia.
“I’ve been a Dale Jr. fan from the very beginning,” Joan proudly stated. After Earnhardt Sr.’s sudden passing, she started watching Dale Jr. as he followed in his father’s footsteps. When asked why she was a Dale Jr. fan, Joan quickly commented, “He’s a sexy fella and a damn good driver! He is also just an all-around good person.”
After battling several illnesses and overall declining health, Joan was no longer able to live by herself. Chris, her only living son, moved in to help take care of her. It was also at this time that Joan was referred to Heartland Hospice. Every day, Joan would ask if any races were on and basically watch anything NASCAR. Knowing Joan’s love of all things NASCAR, Julie was surprised to learn that Joan had never attended a race. That’s when the Heartland team rallied together to get Joan to the races and to meet Dale Jr.!
After several phone calls and emails, arrangements were made for Joan, Chris and Jacinda Brown, RN Heartland Liaison, to attend the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway and to meet Dale Jr. and his team. Prior to the big day, Jacinda arranged for some pampering for Joan as she received a new haircut, her first “mani/pedi”, a new outfit for race day and a special dinner. “I saw a marked improvement in Joan’s attitude as she looked forward to attending the race,” said Jacinda. “It was important to me that Joan receive her wish because she has suffered great losses in her life,” she added.
On race day, Joan and Chris met Dale Jr. and his team. They were also given access to the pits at trackside to see his car. Chris was able to get Dale Jr’s autograph for his mom. “Meeting Dale Jr. was an incredibly exciting experience for my mom,” stated Chris. “She couldn’t believe that Heartland set it up for her. It was one of the best days of her life,” he added.