Rylee has been told she can’t ride a bike because she lacks muscle tone in her legs, but she pedals down the street. She’s been told she can’t cartwheel and tumble with her fellow cheerleaders because of her hydrocephalous and the shunt in her brain, but she puts on her uniform, grabs her pompoms and walks onto the field.
Rylee is determined. She has been fighting Noonan syndrome and a battery of other medical issues since birth, but she doesn’t let that get in the way of her dreams and passions. One of those passions is NASCAR and racing champ Kasey Kahne.
So when Rylee received a message from Kahne himself inviting her to Daytona to cheer him, tears ran down her face. All she wanted to do when she met her favorite driver was hug him.
Once in Daytona, she got her hug. By the end of her visit, the two were even closer, sharing a secret handshake and memories of their time together. Rylee got to meet fellow drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, climbed into Kahne’s car and watched him qualify for the following day’s race.
On race day, she climbed on stage for introductions with her NASCAR idol and took a lap around the Daytona track, waving to fans. For good luck, she gave Kahne a note with two pennies inside, one with his birth year and the other with hers. Together, they chose a spot on the dashboard to tape the coins, a secret bond that allowed Rylee to cross the finish line with Kahne.
Rylee’s wish was part of the 2013 “My Wish” series on ESPN’s SportsCenter.