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Dale Earnhardt’s "Lucky Penny" Girl Honored
June 29, 2012
By Rebecca Gladden
If you've been following NASCAR for any length of time, chances are you've heard the story of a little girl named Wessa Miller, who once gave her favorite driver, Dale Earnhardt, a lucky penny that had a profound effect on his racing career.
If you are not familiar with the story, please read: David Poole's Pet Project: Wessa Miller, Still Inspires Others.
When Wessa was a litte girl, her wish to meet Dale Earnhardt was granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation just before the 1998 Daytona 500. Wessa gave Earnhardt her lucky penny, which he glued to the dashboard of the No. 3 car before the start of the race.
Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 that day after 20 years of trying.
Last September, I received an email from someone who had read the above-mentioned article. The emailer asked if I could put her in contact with Wessa and her family regarding the lucky coin story.
I am happy to report that, as a result of the connections made, Wessa Miller and the 'Lucky Penny' story are being featured in a new public tour at the United States Mint in Philadelphia as part of an exhibit named "Coin Stories."
A grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony is being held at the U.S. Mint on Tuesday, July 3, and the tour will be open to the public starting on Wednesday, July 4.
The Miller family, The Dale Earnhardt Foundation, NASCAR, and Make-A-Wish have all signed off on Wessa’s portion of the exhibit.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” said Juanita Miller, Wessa’s mother. “Many of our family are big coin collectors. We are so proud. We never, ever would have dreamed of this happening!”
The Millers and I were invited to attend the exhibit’s grand opening, but, regretfully, are unable to do so.
Wessa has not been feeling well for several months. Born with spina bifida in 1991, she was not expected to live past two years of age. This October, she turns 21 and is a proud high school graduate.
Daily seizures, uncontrolled by various medications, have been making things more difficult for Wessa over the last several months, “But, she never complains,” said Juanita.
The Coin Stories exhibit, developed for the U.S. Mint by Quatrefoil Associates, is expected to feature of photo provided by the Millers of Wessa meeting Dale Earnhardt during her 1998 Make-A-Wish experience at Daytona.
The accompanying text will read approximately as follows:
A Lucky Penny
During their meeting, Wessa presented her hero with a lucky penny, which Dale Earnhardt glued to the dashboard of his No. 3 race car. With the lucky penny, Earnhardt won his first Daytona 500 after 20 years of trying. Wessa got her wish and so did Dale.
“Many have asked Wessa how she feels and what she thinks about it,” Juanita told me.
“She says it’s no big deal. But I don't think she knows what a big deal it really is.”
Note: Anyone wishing to learn more about Wessa, please visit "Pennies for Wessa, The Lucky Penny Girl" on Facebook . Donations to help the Miller family with Wessa's ongoing medical expenses may be sent to: "Pennies for Wessa".
Pennies for Wessa
Follow Rebecca on Twitter: @nscrwriter