It was to be just another promotional appearance for Dale Earnhardt Jr., plugging this month’s Camping World 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
But for one young NASCAR fan, Earnhardt’s appearance at Thursday’s promotion at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta was so much more – and we have the photos and videos to prove it.
Admittedly, it’s been a tough time of late for 12-year-old Austin Freeman of Macon, Ga. Freeman has been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma and was at the Hall courtesy of Cure Childhood Cancer, which is also headquartered in Atlanta.
Freeman was standing on the Hall’s simulated football field when he was asked “Who did you say your favorite NASCAR driver is?”
“Dale Earnhardt Jr.,” Austin quickly replied.
Suddenly, a voice from behind asked Austin, “Who?”
And there was Junior.
Austin was so shocked to see his idol right in front of him that he dropped his phone.
Earnhardt graciously bent down to pick up the phone while Austin cupped his hands to his face in disbelief, said “Oh My God” several times before quickly composing himself and deadpanning, “I’m doing good.”
Check out the priceless video:
But this was more than just a meet-and-greet for Earnhardt and Freeman. The new buddies tossed around the old pigskin, raced remote control cars, and Austin even raced and beat his idol in a battle of motorized beverage coolers.
To top off the day, Austin will receive free tickets to the Oct. 25 race, and will sit on top of Earnhardt’s pit box during the race.
It’s clear from the videos and photos that Earnhardt had a blast, but then he was the one to be surprised. A diehard fan of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Earnhardt got to meet one of his idols, Redskins legend Dave Butz.
But the day definitely belonged to young Austin. Keep fighting the good fight, young man.
For more videos and photos from today’s event, click here to visit Talladega’s official Twitter page.