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July 5, 2013

New wheels: NASCAR presents teen with 'special gift'

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — A London teenager was given a special gift Thursday at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.  Nicholas Overbey, 13, met with NASCAR drivers, got to ride around the inner field of the speedway and was presented with a life-changing gift.

Overbey was presented with a 4-wheel drive, all terrain power chair, valued at $28,000, replacing his old manual powered wheelchair.   

“NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hauler Drivers and The Kyle Busch Foundation wanted to make a difference in a child’s life,” said Tim Southers, a representative of NASCAR.  “The drivers did all the work to make this happen.”

The power chair, which was donated by Innovation in Motion, will change Overbey's life significantly, allowing him to navigate terrain that a traditional wheelchair would not be able to.  It was customized to specifically fit Overbey’s body, and allows him to adjust the height so he can look people in the eyes as he is talking to them.

In 2007, Overbey was left paralyzed from the waist down after his grandmother's vehicle hydroplaned hitting a tractor-trailer.  His grandmother died in the accident and his cousin and brother also suffered injuries but recovered.

Despite his injury, Overbey still plays basketball, loves to watch the Cincinnati Bengals (football) and is a NASCAR fan.

“Nicholas is an up-spirited child,” said Overbey’s aunt and guardian, Mary Murphy of London.  “The Shriners in Lexington picked him out of everyone of the Shriners’ kids to receive this."

Overbey was selected for this special gift when NASCAR and Innovation In Motion contacted the Shriners Children Hospital in Lexington and asked if they had anyone who might need a power chair.”

Wanda Rice, a representative with Shriners in Lexington, said Overbey had been fitted for a new wheelchair several weeks before, but wasn't able to get a new chair because of funding.  

"We had just measured Nick for a new chair when NASCAR contacted us saying they wanted to donate a chair to someone," said Rice.  "It was absolutely perfect timing for Nick.  They asked if we had anyone needing something like this, and I thought of him."

The new power chair, which is painted in South Laurel colors, will allow Overbey to move through sand and mud, go up or down curbs and easily go up and down the wheelchair ramps at his school.

In addition to receiving the power chair, Overbey attended a pre-race drivers meeting, got to hang out with the drivers in-field and was given gift cards  and autographed hats.

Overbey was very grateful for the gift he received, saying he thought it was awesome receiving the chair but that he thought the people who helped make the donation happen should be rewarded for their kindness.

rmcdaniel@sentinel-echo.com

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