Wessa Miller, the girl who gave Dale Earnhardt Sr. her lucky penny prior to his winning the Daytona 500 in 1998, will return to Bristol Motor Speedway, a place where Earnhardt later brought the family to thank them for their special gift.
Thanks to the efforts of the NASCAR Angels television program and working with The NASCAR Foundation, Motor Racing Outreach and The Pennies for Wessa Fund, the Miller family will make its return visit.
Wessa Miller, now 16-years-old and still residing in Phyllis, KY, was six years old on Feb. 15, 1998 when her dream to meet NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. came true through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. During their meeting, Wessa gave Earnhardt her lucky penny. That weekend, with the coin glued to the dash of his car, Dale Earnhardt Sr. won the Daytona 500 on his 20th attempt. The following April, Earnhardt arranged to have Wessa and her family attend the NASCAR race in Bristol, Tenn. During their visit, Earnhardt presented the Millers with a new van to help with their transportation needs.
Eleven years later, the Millers still drive that same van, which transports the family to and from regular doctor visits in Lexington, KY, 175 miles from Phyllis.
The NASCAR Angels television program has arranged to bring Wessa Miller and her family to Bristol Motor Speedway on March 21 to film her as part of a ‘Heart of NASCAR’ segment to be featured in an upcoming episode.
“Reliable transportation is important to all of us, but for some it’s a true necessity,” said Odis Lloyd, managing director of NASCAR’s Automotive Group. “NASCAR Angels is proud to raise awareness of the Wessa Miller story and support these efforts to help her find the reliable transportation she needs.”
In conjunction with this event, The NASCAR Foundation has partnered with NASCAR Angels and Motor Racing Outreach (MRO) to launch an online auction that will raise funds for the MRO Benevolence Fund, a fund that supports causes like Pennies for Wessa. The auction will feature a variety of items including autographed memorabilia from numerous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and more, exclusive VIP experiences at upcoming races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule and items from the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, Richard Childress Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing and NASCAR Performance.
“The story of Wessa Miller is one that continues to touch the hearts of many NASCAR fans and those in the sport,” said Billy Mauldin. “It is stories like these that our MRO Benevolence Fund was created to support.”
The Pennies for Wessa Fund was started by NASCAR beat writer and SIRIUS XM radio host David Poole in an effort to assist the needs of the Miller family.
"In working on an anniversary story from Dale Earnhardt’s Daytona 500 victory in 1998, something made me wonder how the little girl who gave him his lucky penny before that race was doing 10 years later,” said Poole. “What I found was that Wessa Miller and her parents, Booker and Juanita, deal with day-to-day challenges that most of us can’t even dream of. The Millers meet those challenges by being a wonderful, loving family with deep faith in God and in each other. As soon as my story was published, people started asking if there was anything they could do to help the Millers, so we set up Pennies for Wessa to provide that opportunity."
To learn more or to bid on items to support this auction, visit www.NASCAR.COM/foundation.
Fans can donate directly to the Pennies for Wessa Fund by visiting www.penniesforwessa.org.