NASCAR driver Kurt Busch grants wish for hospice patient, former driver

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NASCAR driver Kurt Busch granted a wish for an Illinois hospice patient through the nonprofit organization Hospice Dreams at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.

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Ray Rhoades, 64, and Kurt Busch, share racing stories at Chicagoland Speedway during the an outing hosted by Hospice Dreams.

I couldn't dream of anything that would have made me happier than I am today.

Kurt Busch made a racing fan's Dream come true at Chicagoland Speedway on September 16th. Ray Rhoades, 64, is a patient of Passages Hospice in Clinton, Illinois. As a younger man, Rhoades was a fearless driver who friends dubbed "Crazy Ray" for the risks he took to win. Over the last four decades, Rhoades has raced on tracks from Illinois to Georgia.

“He lives, breathes, eats and sleeps racing,” said his niece, Bonnie Fisher, who remembers her uncle rolling his car several times as he attempted to overtake an opponent.

Rhoades even raced with old NASCAR favorites like Rusty Wallace and Kenny Shrader before his cancer became so advanced. Instead of the driver's seat, Ray now watches races from his armchair. But his excitement for the sport hasn't faded one bit.

With the help of his nurses, Rhoades submitted a request for a day at the track to the nonprofit organization Hospice Dreams. Hospice Dreams, based in Bradley, Illinois, grants wishes for adult hospice patients as a way to improve their quality of life and help families make important memories together.

After learning that his favorite driver is Kurt Busch, Hospice Dreams made the outing extra special by arranging an exclusive meet-and-greet. Busch and Rhoades met near the staging area and spent nearly half an hour swapping stories about their favorite races. Before saying goodbye, Busch left Rhoades with autographed pictures and items to take home. And although Busch would go on to finish 32nd in the race, Rhoades says he will always appreciate Busch's kindness.

"I really have a new respect for Kurt. He was so real and down to earth," Rhoades said.

Rhoades and his family also enjoyed a trackside cookout and a visit to the pit, courtesy of local manufacturer EJ Equipment, which generously donated tickets to the day's events. A pre-race Luke Bryan concert and comfortable shaded seats to watch the race capped off the once-in-a-lifetime experience for Rhoades.

"I couldn't dream of anything that would've made me happier than I am today," he said.

For more information about Hospice Dreams, or to donate, please visit http://www.hospicedreams.org or call toll-free 888-741-9132.

-About Hospice Dreams-
Hospice Dreams helps fulfill unmet wishes and improve quality of life for hospice patients and their families. It is a non-profit organization and 501(c)3 charitable group, supported by memorial donations and through partnerships with generous corporate sponsors. Hospice Dreams was founded in 2008 by Passages Hospice, to ensure that hospice patients received the gift of a final Dream. It soon expanded to serve hospice patients of any provider. For more information about Hospice Dreams or to donate, please visit http://www.hospicedreams.org.

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Kaitlyn Henderson

Kansas Swain
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