INCREDIBLE 10 Year Old Starts Twitter Campaign To Help “Mr. Mike” Harmon: “Racing For Marrissa”By Marty Tyler
Allow me to introduce you to Marrissa Bishop who has a rare and painful condition known as Acromegaly which affects as many as 60 out of every million people. Acromegaly causes abnormal growth of bones, usually those in the arms, hands, legs and feet, due to high levels of growth hormone caused by a benign tumor.
A call from Mike a couple of days ago alerted me to this amazing little girl. He would tell me nothing more than, “You have to read about her on my website. This isn’t about me, Marty. This is all about her. It’s all about her.” So that is exactly what I did. I went to his website and read the article “Racing For Marrissa At Iowa” written by Amanda Ebersole from www.skirtsandscuffs.com. I knew I had to speak with the child with this huge, giving heart.
Marrissa and Mike are both from Alabama. She is an avid NASCAR fan, exposed to racing by her mother and grandmother. She is also a regular on Twitter where she is known as @LilMarrissa. So I decided to dust off my never used Twitter account and track this little powerhouse down.
The following is the result of an interview with her and her mother Jessica, an interview I will always cherish. She began by explaining how and when she developed her passion for racing.
“Maw Maw (her grandmother) took me to Talladega (Superspeedway) in 2004.It’s big!” They walked around the track. “It’s kind of scarey. I like how they go up on the big curves. It’s got a pretty high bank on it. I grew up with my Mom and my Maw Maw watching racing so I’ve kind of known about it since I was real, real little. It’s always been just me, my mom and Maw Maw.”
“Maw Maw told me about the wreck Mr. Mike had at another track (Bristol 2002) and she showed me the youtube video of it when I got on Twitter. With the wreck, when I watched Mr. Mike’s wreck I cried. It scared me. Now when I see them on TV I always go to my room until Maw Maw tells me they’re ok. I come back out then, but, they really scare me. Since I’ve been sick I met “Mr. Brad” Keselowski at Walmart in April when they had the Talladega race. Mr. Brad is my favorite Cup driver. He started following me on Twitter when he found out I was sick so I got on there and thanked him for following me. Then about a month ago Mr. Mike sent me a tweet that said ‘I’m not Mr. Brad but I’m following you now.’ And ever since then Mr. Mike and I talk everyday. I love Mr. Mike.”
“We watched Mr. Mike pull off the track in some of the races and they said he was out so I asked my mom and my Maw Maw what that meant and they told me (about start and park and why Mike and others have to do that). It’s like I told another lady, Mr. Mike has the racing spirit and if he has the opportunity to get behind (the wheel of) a car and be able to race the whole race I fully believe he’ll do really good.”
“I was on Twitter and me, my mom and Maw Maw were talking about a way we might be able to help and I came up with the idea that maybe the fans could sponsor his car and that my name might be able to get on his car along with everybody else’s. This means a lot to me. With me being sick and having a brain tumor, to be able to make somebody else’s life a little bit better makes me feel good because Mr. Mike is a good friend of mine. To be able to help him run a whole race and be able to do really good is something I want to do for him but I just didn’t know how and with having the idea of all the fans making a donation of any amount that they or their family can afford and to get their name on the car with my name on it, it’s amazing to me. I know Mr. Mike and he’s going to be in Victory Lane one day. If you’re not a fan of Mr. Mike’s this could be your way to kind of get to know him and help him out also because once you know Mr. Mike and become a fan of his, you’ll love him. He may not have been able to run a lot of races or finish a lot of races in the Nationwide (Series) but he’s going to be #1 one day and you’re going to want to be a fan of his before he gets there so he will know you’re going to stick by him.”
I asked Marrissa’s mother if she would tell our readers what this association with Mr. Mike and her daughter has meant to her. “I’m going to try to do this without crying. Ok?” With a voice laden with emotion Jessica Bishop continued, “Little Marrissa has had a hard time in her life. She’s put up with a lot of bullying. She doesn’t get to go to school much so she’s never had many friends. Since her contact with Mike on Twitter Mike has been just an awesome friend to her. When she tweets him he always tweets her right back. He always says very, very uplifting things to her. I think the past 3 or 4 days since this has been going on she’s been more happy, excited and it even seems like her health is better. And through Mike other people have started following her on Twitter and telling her how awesome she is, and what she means to them. This is just an incredible journey. I think if people were more aware of Acromegaly, including children, if they understood it more maybe they would treat kids with this a little differently. I would love to see more awareness for this, as well. Now people are really taking notice of Acromegaly and for that we are forever grateful to Mike.”
“When Marrissa was 4 years old my mom took her to the Talladega track and she told Marrisa about sitting in Richard Petty’s race car. Marrissa told her that was very cool but she wanted her name on a race car. We just had no idea at that time that something as great as this would happen to Marrissa and she would have her name on a car. This is all so emotional for me but I do want to thank Mike for what he’s doing for my daughter and being such a big part of her life.”
What an inspirational family! I saved the last of the interview for Marrissa. What does she want to say to Mr. Mike? “I guess when he puts my name on his car, to make my name fly. And tell Mr. Mike that I love him.”
I spoke with Mike later that day and he offered this, “I want everyone to understand that this effort is not about me. It is totally about Marrissa. This was her idea. She is amazing. Being in the business I’m in, especially at the race track, I’m around a lot of people who complain about anything and everything they can. They’re at the race track doing what millions of people would love to do and here’s little Marrissa sitting at home and would give anything to be at the race track. We get to do this and get paid for it and Marrissa thinks about how she can help other people. We should all appreciate life like she does and be more like her.”
“I have always been a private person and I appreciate every race I can start. I get ridiculed for start and parks but I do what I can to provide for my team and my family in this economy. Of course I would love to be able to run every lap of every race. That’s what I did for years. I had to win and I did win so I don’t like the situation I’m in but this is better than laying on the couch and watching it on TV. The income looks ok to some but it isn’t what it seems with fuel prices, tires, motels and all racing related expenses. I deal with this. I’m not happy about it but I do what I have to do and I don’t complain about it. And this little 10 year old girl understands all of that. Like I said she is amazing. She’s very special and important to me and if more people were like Marrissa this would be a much better world. She’s definitely an inspiration to me and hopefully to many other people.”
Robert Reed of The Social Eclipse http://TheSocialEclipse.com is working feverishly with Harmon to help Marrissa’s dream to come true. They have launched an all out campaign to (1) Create the Twitter Fan Car to run the rest of the season featuring Marrissa Bishop, (2) Raise awareness and increase education for those with Acromegaly, (3) Raise awareness and increase education to stop bullying and (4) Raise money for Marrissa’s charity of choice. After the last race of this season the goal is to be able to arrange a time and place for Harmon and Marrissa to deliver the total dollars raised to Marrissa’s charity of choice.
However, the immediate/short term goal of this campaign is to raise enough funds through fan donations to allow Mike to run the entire event at the Iowa race in 2 weeks featuring Marrissa’s name on the hood of the car and the names of all who donate splashed all over the car. This is a giant undertaking but one that can be reached with the support of race fans everywhere. And in considering the long term goals of this effort they have decided to continue this campaign to run through the end of this race season. They are also seeking business/corporate sponsors for the dollars that will allow Mike to drive the full race at each event. If full corporate sponsorship can be found for each race, all dollar donations for the Twitter Fan Car will go towards Marrissa’s charity of choice. Of course, as is customary, there will be a ‘sponsor section’ on the car and Mike’s website will spotlight those sponsors.
As Mike said, this effort is all about Marrissa. She is a very special young lady with a generous heart which is coupled with the knowledge and understanding of Mike’s racing efforts. An understanding that put those of many race fans to shame. And Marrissa, you may not realize this but to Mr. Mike, Robert Reed, me, everyone at www.catchfence.com and everyone who works with Mike, in our eyes you already soar far higher than you can imagine. Now we are hoping the fans of racing will allow your name to “fly” at race track speed in Iowa.
Or you can mail your donations to:
Mike Harmon Racing
6652 Denver Industrial Park Road
Denver NC 28037
And please check out Mr. Mike’s new website at www.mikeharmonracing.com Contact information for sponsorship can be found there. And thank you all for helping a very special friend of ours FLY!
Views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Catchfence