HOUSTON (May 2) -- Drag racing legend Shirley "Cha Cha" Muldowney welcomed 16-year-old Tacey Raulerson of College Station, Texas, into her Shirley's Kids charity Sunday during the 29th annual NHRA SpringNationals, presenting the two-time cancer survivor with $10,000 thanks to the generous donations of Shell and charity founders Stan and Sheila Holt of Lupe Tortilla Mexican Restaurants.
"God has answered our prayers and we are completely overwhelmed," said Tommy Raulerson, Tacey's mother. "When Shirley Muldowney invited us for a day at the drag races, that was such a thrill and Tacey barely slept the last few days because she's been so excited. Then they got her up on stage with Shirley, and suddenly John Chiboroski from Shell and Stan and Sheila Holt from Lupe Tortilla walk out with a giant check made out to Tacey for $10,000. I almost fainted.
"You have no idea what this means for us. It's truly going to change our lives. The air conditioner at home went out last week, and together with some remodeling we need to do to make the house a little easier for Tacey to get around, we were looking at about $5,000 in expenses. I prayed for God to help us last night, never expecting this at all, and then we come here and get this surprise. We've never felt so loved."
Tacey was first diagnosed with cancer at age 7, and although she successfully conquered the disease at that time, it left her blind. It was during her rehabilitation from that first bout of cancer when she became a drag racing fan as she realized she could hear, smell, and feel the ground-pounding acceleration of 10,000-horsepower dragsters.
Another fight against cancer came a few years later, but once again Tacey emerged victorious, and her unwavering spirit made her an obvious choice for Shirley's Kids, the 501(c)3 charity Muldowney and the Holts started earlier this year. The stated goal of Shirley's Kids is to help a child in need at each of the stops of the NHRA tour that Muldowney visits. So far, three deserving children have been named "Shirley's Kids."
"It touches your heart to be able to help these wonderful children," said Muldowney as she clutched Tacey near. "It's given my life purpose, and for companies like Shell to get involved and help us with our mission, it fills me with happiness. Thank you, thank you, thank you to Shell. Your reward is this beautiful smiling girl."
Chiboroski, marketing manager for Shell, said supporting Shirley's Kids became a priority for his company soon after they learned of the group's work. Additionally, during Sunday's check presentation to Tacey, he issued a challenge to all the other corporations involved with NHRA drag racing.
"It was an honor for us to be able to help the Raulersons and Shirley's Kids," Chiboroski said. "Shell and our Pennzoil brand have a long history of charitable contributions and our involvement in NHRA drag racing is increasing, so it was natural for us to get involved with Shirley's Kids. Now we want to challenge all the other companies involved in the sport to step up and match our contribution."
For more information, visit ShirleysKids.org.
John Chiboroski of Shell, left, helps present a $10,000 check to Tacey Raulerson (center, with hat and sunglasses) along with, from left, Stan Holt, Shirley Muldowney, Sheila Holt, Mike Raulerson (partially obscured), and Geoff Seamon.
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Please visit ShirleysKids.org, Muldowney.com, and GeigerMediaGlobal.com for more information.