Famous NASCAR drivers, their family members and staff came together on Wednesday in the most amazing way possible to attend the funeral of a 5-year-old racing fan who recently died after a battle with juvenile myelomoncytic leukemia.
The touching move came after Jake Leatherman’s mother, Crystal, sent a request to a local TV anchor asking if she knew anyone from NASCAR who might be willing to attend her little boy’s funeral.
As it turns out, the NASCAR community delivered an incredible response, with racing stars on competing teams showing up in full uniform to honor Jake’s life in Hickory, North Carolina, Fox Sports reported.
When Jake's mom reached out to the NASCAR family for love and support, teams never hesitated to show up and celebrate his life! pic.twitter.com/ZJc3AzCOBt
— RPMotorsports (@RPMotorsports) November 9, 2016
The kind act was the end result of a request that Crystal sent to WBTV-TV anchor Molly Grantham, according to a story Grantham recently posted to the network’s news page.
“I want to give my son the sendoff he deserves. He recently got into NASCAR and absolutely loves Richard Petty. He loved calling him ‘The King,'” Crystal wrote in a recent email to Grantham. “But Jake loves a lot of the other cars as well. The Lowe’s car. The M&M’s U.S.A. car. Lots of cars. He loved them all.”
She continued, “I was wondering if you knew anyone who would be willing to come in uniform and help carry my baby?”
Grantham, who runs a community effort she calls “Molly’s Kids” to help local children who are ill, proceeded to ask if anyone might know someone who could help bring NASCAR to the little boy’s funeral, admitting that she knew it was a long shot, but wanted to help the family try and make it happen. Then, as word spread, Crystal’s wish became a reality.
Just got home from Jake Leatherman's funeral. Gives a true perspective on life. The @NASCAR community is unbelievable. Huge turnout
— Matthew DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) November 9, 2016
— Mandy Wilson (@mandy_wilson85) November 9, 2016
According to Fox Sports, Spring Cup Series drivers Joey Logano, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis, among many others, were on hand to honor Jake’s life on Wednesday, with some of the drivers even serving as pallbearers.
In fact, over 60 people who were either drivers, pit crew members or their spouses attended Jake’s funeral — an incredibly touching act that’s understandably making headlines.
The NASCAR community, realizing its members were fulfilling a mother’s final wish for her son, acted out of compassion and had a presence that Jake’s family will surely never forget.
“There are no words to thank NASCAR. My husband Wayne and I are overwhelmed,” Crystal told WBTV-TV of the experience. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you, NASCAR. Thank you, Molly’s Kids. Thank you, everyone. Jake is in a better place now.”
It was a scene that also emotionally moved Grantham, as she attended the funeral and posted about the experience afterward.
“I was honored to go and be part of 5-year-old Jake Leatherman’s funeral,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Look at how many in the NASCAR world — on competing teams — came together to ‘send Jake home’ in a bittersweet way.”
The TV anchor then shared a quick video showing the drivers as they were all leaving Jake’s funeral service. While she called the clip “hard to see,” she also said it was incredibly beautiful.
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