Christopher Fain Proves That Not All Heroes In Racing Wear Fire Suits
Story By: MATT NOLES / RACERSGUIDE.COM
Photos By: MARK BROWN / KUSTOMKEEPSAKES.COM
SPRAKERS, NY- January 16, 2017- The character of an individual is best defined by the actions and deeds they perform when nobody is watching.
Christopher Fain doesn’t fit the socially accepted norm of a hero where racing is concerned. He doesn’t wear Nomex at the speedway nor is his vision restricted by that of a visor adorned with tear-offs. He has never won at the Mile in Syracuse and he doesn’t have any track championships to brag about but what he does possess he possesses in spades; a massive amount of character.
Through his work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he’s proven to be more of a man of courage, a warrior almost, than most who take to the speedway surface of any dirt track in New York State, or the country for that matter. What’s more; he’s never done something for self-satisfaction and will be the first to shrug away from any attention. He’s a rare, and much needed, combination that the racing community could use more of.
Most Saturday night’s at the Lebanon Valley Speedway [in West Lebanon, New York] are just like any other; teams unload, go through the evening attempting to outrun their competition and then go home. However, one evening in June became more than just another race night and put the value of life, amongst other things, into perspective for all in attendance.
The Make-A-Wish mission statement is rather simplistic yet extremely to the point; they grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. When Fain was tasked with revealing the wish granted for young Nathan Webster, he knew exactly where and when to reveal it.
“As soon as I learned how much Nathan [Webster] loved racing I knew that his reveal had to happen at a racetrack,” stated Fain. “Howard [Commander, owner of Lebanon Valley Speedway] and his team made the night absolutely perfect for Nathan and his family. They made it very clear that any time I needed anything like this, they would get it done.”
When the plan was hatched, the outpouring of support and help was overwhelming to say the least. “No matter who we asked to help us it was ‘how much’ or ‘what can we do to help,’” Fain continued. “People like Brett [Hearn] and Melissa [Stevens] jumped right in without question. Andy [Bachetti] was great. He just let the kids hang out as long as they wanted to that night. Everybody donated shirts; it was just awesome.”
The season-long racing grind tends to take not only a physical toll on the drivers, it also takes up a lot of their precious time. It was that sacrifice that helped make the night a memorable one for the Webster family. “I always knew the generosity of racing people was there,” stated Fain. “It’s just that they are always so busy but I knew that if I could make it easy for them to help, they would.”
As word spread through the pit area about what Christopher Fain was trying to accomplish, more and more racing teams came on board with selfless abandon. “Keith and Chelsea Flach were incredible,” He remarked. “As soon as I mentioned the idea for the wish reveal, Keith donated his helmet from last year and had all the drivers sign it. They never asked for anything in return, they just gave without question.”
As the night wore on, the smile on Nathan’s young face increased exponentially. Not only was he able to spend a night surrounded by some of the best dirt racer’s in the business, he was also informed of his pending trip to Disney. For a young boy facing seemingly insurmountable odds at every turn, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Christopher Fain were able to make his struggles a distant memory, if only for a brief moment in time.
“When Nathan and his family were on their way home, his mom sent me a text,” Fain said emotionally. “Nathan told her it was the best day of his life. And that’s why we do it. This isn’t about me; I don’t like the attention. I just hope that this helps Make-A-Wish by people donating or trying to help them out. That’s what really matters.”
Fain has certainly achieved some of his goals as he has encouraged others to volunteer their time for a much-needed cause. One of those individuals drawn in by his sense of giving is mother of Lebanon Valley small-block modified competitor Brett Haas; Tanya Haas.
“Chris got me involved,” stated Haas. “He started with Make-A-Wish and told me about it so I jumped on board with him. People generally want to help in any way they can and to be a part of something so special; how could you not want to? Making a child’s wish come true is absolutely amazing.”
For Haas, the experience of granting wishes for sick children has certainly left an indelible mark; one that is most certainly for the better. “With so much negativity in the world that you hear about day in and day out, this is just our way to give back,” She stated. “We get a chance to help these children that are going through such a difficult time that we can’t even imagine what it’s like for the child or their family.”
Nathan Webster’s wish is just one of the many that Christopher Fain has participated in throughout his time with the Make-A-Wish Foundation; but you can bet that he remembers them all. “This is a responsibility that I take very seriously,” He continued. “Anyone who knows me knows that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I have been asked many times how I could do this and really, for me, the question is how could I not do it?”
Though the experience has been gratifying in numerous ways, there are days where it’s easy and inversely, days where it’s difficult. Yet through it all, one of racing’s most unsung heroes continues to answer the call by remembering what really matters and what does not and, at the same time, showcasing the giving and care that the racing community readily provides.
“I’m not going to lie, there are days that are difficult but they pale in comparison to what these kids and their families go through” concluded Fain. “They wake up every day to face the reality of a sick child. If they can find the strength to do that then I can certainly find the strength to push through and make it the best experience that I possibly can.”
Tens of thousands of volunteers, donors and supporters advance the Make-A-Wish® vision to grant the wish of every child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. In the United States and its territories, on average, a wish is granted every 35 minutes. We believe a wish experience can be a game-changer. This one belief guides us and inspires us to grant wishes that change the lives of the kids we serve. To learn more or to find out about how you can help, please visit www.wish.org.
Matt Noles is a contributing writer to Racer’s Guide, Dirt Track Digest and Speedway Illustrated. He currently resides in Sprakers, New York and can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.