Smile Experience Family Respite Days
The Smile Experience is a special family respite day at the track for kids battling cancer. It day provides a cancer-free zone where there is no mention of illness allowed so that each family can have a day away from treatment, hospitals, and worries to be the fun, silly, and loving family they are!
Utica Comet's mascot Audie made a "pit stop" at the KEYS Program's Smile Experience in 2016. Take a look at his fun-filled day.
What is a Smile Experience?
The best way to describe our Smile Experience is to imagine being 10 years old. Your life is made up of hospital stays, chemotherapy treatments and many long days (or sometimes months) apart from your family. Then you get invited to come to a Smile Experience!
When you enter the gate of the track, it looks like a carnival with balloons, music, smiling faces to greet you and four shiny race cars, just your size, just for you to play with for the day!
We believe that cancer does not define a child, so from the time each child enters the gate of the race track to the time they leave, there is never any mention of illness. Our Smile Experience is a cancer-free zone, where each child is free to be the amazing, giggling, silly kid they are, enjoying a special Smile Experience day with their family!
When families first arrive at the track, our KEYS kids (and their siblings too!) get suited up in full safety gear, driver’s suit and helmet.
From there, they are assigned a Crew Chief who provides instruction and gets them strapped into one of our beautiful USAC Quarter Midget race cars. Their Crew Chief provides instruction via radio communication as the kids begin to take hot laps on the track.
The laughter, joy and smiles on the faces of the kids can be seen…and heard…lap after lap!
Next stop is Victory Lane where each child gets a checkered flag, an awesome trophy and cheers from the fans!
They sign autographs (as all famous race car drivers do!) and finally head up to the Tower, where they get interviewed over the track public address system with our track announcer.
From start to checkered flag finish, each child is treated to a full driving experience and superstar treatment!
That’s what our Smile Experience is all about!
“I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed the Smile Experience… Erika is already asking if we can go again next year! On our way home Erika said ‘dreams do come true’! What a wonderful day!” ~Erika’s mother
“Thank you for inviting us to the Smile Experience family respite day! It was such a wonderful experience for the kids and it surely does bring out the smiles! It will be a memory that Grant and our family will never forget!” ~Grant’s mother
Lily was so happy to get a trophy! It was her first ever! I think if she could have slept with it tonight, she would have! She truly felt special!!” ~Lily’s Mother
“This has been the BEST day of my entire life!” ~6 year old cancer patient
Whether a child is in the midst of their battle or if they are a cancer-free survivor, they are always a part of the KEYS family and welcome to participate until they are 18 years old. And always at no cost to the families we serve thanks to our wonderful supporters who help create BIG smiles!
Afterall...it's all about the smiles!