For the entire seven years of his life, Kyle Slick and his family have lived five minutes from the Route 66 Raceway in their hometown of Manhattan, Illinois. Every year, they’d hear the cars roar around racetrack, they’d smell the diesel in the air, and feel the rumble of the engines in their home. But they never had an opportunity to actually see the races, until this past weekend.
At just three years old, Kyle was diagnosed with ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia. He underwent 38 months of treatment, during which time he was accepted into Believe In Tomorrow’s programs. His mom, Mary, had no idea what to expect because they were the first family from Advocate Hope for Children’s Hospital to apply. They had an amazing time at a Hands On Bull Riding event with the Professional Bull Riders last year, and when they were invited on a behind-the-scenes tour through the Hands On Racing program this past weekend, the answer was a resounding “YES!”
Kyle and his family got to meet several drivers and learn the ins and outs of the drag racing industry through the National Hot Rod Association. One of the drivers, TJ Zizzo, even had pancakes prepared for their arrival! Kyle and his sister Sidney both got to test out the cockpit of a race car, with their mom joking that they were ready for the track!
Immediately after the conclusion of their Hands On Racing Adventure, the Slick family jumped in the car and headed on a two-day drive for the next adventure: their first respite at the Believe In Tomorrow House on Fenwick Island.
Since arriving at the beach, Kyle and his family have been smiling nonstop. While the kids ogled over cupcakes and goodies in their welcome basket, Kyle’s parents marveled at the coziness and warmth of their beach-themed retreat. They enjoyed meeting other families at the family cookout, with face painting and crafts for the kids while all the parents relaxed and got to know one another.
“I know there’s so much more coming,” said Mary. “It’s so warming; you come all the way there and don’t know what to expect, and then you have all these wonderful people that understand what you’re going through and you can just talk through everything.”
Mary was most excited about going to Hooper’s Crab House for steamed crabs, something she has only enjoyed once and vowed to never try again unless in Maryland. The kids were a little wary of the steaming red creatures, but were up for the challenge!
They visited Assateague Island, which horse enthusiast, Sidney, was absolutely thrilled about. Kyle, on the other hand, kept asking when they could play more miniature golf! The rest of the week’s plans include a ride on the Coast Guard Cutter, kite flying on the beach, a family portrait session at sunset, more miniature golf, surf lessons, and a water park.
Of their adventure-packed week, Kyle is most looking forward to going to the water park, something he has not been able to do in a long time. While on treatment, Kyle could not go to public swimming areas because his lowered immune system put him at a very high risk for infection. Having been in remission for four years and nearing the one year post-treatment mark, this week will be the first time in a long time that he will be able to enjoy endless waterslides, wave pools, and lazy rivers!