Making Wishes Come True
She doesn’t just talk about giving back, she lives it. Her passion for service started in a Brighton, Massachusetts, housing project.
“I was one of 10 kids, we didn’t have anything,” D’Amelio says. “I never even had my own bed.”
Watch Them Go
Davies, who’s battling terminal lung disease and cancer, watches NASCAR at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. When Jane D’Amelio, marketing director at Right Toyota, learned about the local boy’s wish to see a NASCAR race, she worked with Toyota to make it happen.
Her team raises $10,000 a month for charity, all of it collected from the community they serve.
“Sometimes I get overwhelmed, thinking about it,” says D’Amelio. “How did a little girl, who didn’t have the best upbringing make this happen?”
A Simple Wish
Lately, one of the brightest spots in D’Amelio’s life has been a little boy named Brendan.
Brendan has been battling illness since he was just a few weeks old.
He survived a heart transplant at 18 months, and now, at age 8, lives with terminal lung disease and cancer.
Brendan and his two brothers are being raised by a single mom.
“These boys are very smart,” D’Amelio says. “But they haven’t spent a lot of time being basic children.”
D’Amelio met Brendan and his brothers through a program that helps families through the harsh reality of childhood cancer.
She volunteered to be their “Wish Buddy,” and that’s where the magic starts.
“I spend time with Brendan and his siblings working on their wish list,” D’Amelio says. “It gets longer every week!”
The crew has been to the movies, to dinners and baseball games, but recently, a simple request proved difficult.
D’Amelio couldn’t find a race track willing to let Brendan get behind the wheel of a go-kart.
Then, she got an even better idea.
“Brendan has a passion for three things: motorcycles, trucks and fast cars,” D’Amelio says. “It took a few weeks of planning, but we were able to get Brendan to a NASCAR race.”
This was Brendan’s biggest wish yet.
A Boy and His Hero
Brendan Davies poses with Toyota Motorsports driver Todd Gilliland at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona. Gilliland drives the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
First up: a police escort to ISM Raceway in Phoenix.
“The boys thought they were going straight to the NASCAR race, but we pulled up and there were a dozen motorcycle officers,” D’Amelio says. “Brendan got to sit on a motorcycle, beep every horn and blow every whistle.”
And it didn’t stop there.
A convoy of 75 lifted Toyota Tundras from a local Tundra club also joined the escort.
Each one had an American flag flying off the back.
“Did I mention they shut down the freeway to transport the boys? Because, that happened!” D’Amelio says.
The group arrived to a VIP welcome, then it was off to the Toyota Suite for all the hot and spicy food they could eat (Brendan’s favorite).
For D’Amelio, this was about more than a race. It was about living in the moment and making memories that last.
“I don’t want all the boys’ memories to be trapped in the hospital,” D’Amelio says.
The Care That Counts
It’s hard for most of us to imagine going to the doctor three times a week – or checking into the hospital and not knowing when we’ll get out.
For Brendan, it’s just life.
Palliative care keeps him comfortable by managing his pain. It also involves the kind of psychological and spiritual support he’s found in D’Amelio.
Right Toyota and the community of Scottsdale have embraced “Team Brendan.”
It looks like 2019 will include go-kart racing, guitar lessons and tickets to WWE.
“Lead by example is the complete opposite of the way I was raised,” D’Amelio says. “I’ve learned it’s not about writing a check. You can give something. You can give yourself and your time.”