NASCAR’s Elliott Sadler visits Oak Mountain Elementary

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Role models come from all different facets of life, whether they be athletes, singers, actors, a family member or so on, but all role models have one thing in common, they do something that separates them from everyone else and gives young kids someone to look up to.

This was on full display when NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler visited Oak Mountain Elementary School on Tuesday, April 25, to read a book to the students as well as participate in other fun activities.

While Elliott was changing into his OneMain Financial blue race suit for the kids, you could sense the excitement from them as they knew someone famous was about to walk through the door, which led to a boisterous chant of “Elliott, Elliott, Elliott.”

Finally, Sadler walked through the door of the Oak Mountain Elementary school library to a room full of first-grade kids whose faces lit up with excitement as chants of “Elliott” turned to cheering and dropped jaws. These kids knew they were in the presence of someone famous, someone that they possibly aspire to be one day.

Elliott sat down and greeted the kids as he prepared to read “The Little Engine That Could.”

“Everybody’s life is their own book, their own story,” Sadler said. “You can make your own book, it just matters how hard you try and how well you listen, which is why I chose to read this book.”

Sadler went on to say that he tells his son, who is also in the first grade, that he can do whatever he wants and be his own superhero, just like Sadler dreamed to be.

“Each book that (they) read at this age in the first grade has a little something special tied into it,” Sadler said. “When the teachers are reading them books and going through lesson plans there is a little something extra to take away about how they should treat each other.”

Sadler finished the book and described why he decided to read such a classic and inspiring story to the kids.

“I want them to be the hero in their own books,” he said. “You can dream as big as you want to dream and your world can be as big as you want it to be. It all depends on how much you believe and you want to dream.”

After his reading to the first graders, Sadler stepped outside where the second and third grade classes awaited his arrival.

Before speaking with the kids, he checked out a white actual sized stock race car that had been painted with the names of all of the second and third graders in the school. Sadler stepped up and painted on his initials along with the No. 1, which represents the number on the side of his weekly race car.

“When I was a kid sitting in assemblies I always sat there dreaming about my future and other things and kind of half paid attention,” Sadler said. “I always said that if I was ever able to speak in front of kids that I would tell them how these are the best days of your life and to dream big.”

With one kid saying, “Oh cool it’s a race car man,” and other gasping with excitement, it’s safe to say that the Oak Mountain students were excited to be in Sadler’s presence and will want to give that extra effort to push toward a dream of their own.

Whether the kids knew who Elliott Sadler was coming into the day or not, one thing is for sure, these kids will be watching the Sparks Energy 300 and the Geico 500 on Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5, with a little more enthusiasm as they see Sadler driving on the 2.66-mile-long track and proudly state “I got to meet that ‘race car man.’”