Automobiles are a marvel of an invention. The moment the second motor carriage rolled off the assembly line people started a love affair that has outgrown a century. In this time, cars have often been the source of inspiration, unity, passion, and enthusiasm. Every person who considers themselves an automotive enthusiast can tell a story of how it got started. For Manny Diotte, his story starts at age 7 with a Ferrari 328 and ends with him starting a charity that helps children fighting cancer forget their stress with the help of 12 cylinders.
Manny Diotte is a motivational speaker, author, coach, and cancer survivor. His battle with cancer started at age 7 and took him on 48 operations over 3 ½ years, and 2 years of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Diotte won the battle, but not without painful reminders and in 1987 an otherwise small experience during into a lifelong pursuit.
He had arrived in at Los Angeles International Airport to visit Dr. Timothy Miller, a well known plastic surgeon with clients as big as Michael Jackson. As he was walking out of the terminal he spotted a red Ferrari 328. Starstruck, he asked the owner if he could take a photo with the car. The Ferrari owner must have been in a gracious mood and allowed Diotte to even sit inside the 348. It was a small gesture that left a permanent impression on Diotte’s mind. The sensation of feeling like a rock star while being around a high-performance Italian sports car stayed with him.
It was that experience that inspired him to start The Ferrari Kid which gives children with cancer a day to feel like a celebrity. With the help of sponsors and a bright red Ferrari, kids spend the day riding in fine Italian leather getting the full “rock star experience”. The Ferrari Kid experience is meant to help children forget their struggle for a day but being treated like a celebrity.
The day consists of visiting the child’s favorite local places. They are given the red carpet treatment where ever they go while the paparazzi document the day’s event. Goodie bags, and lifetime access to the Hope Tank Support Group, a for-profit social enterprise gift store that sells products by philanthropic and environmentally responsible companies. A percentage of the products sold are donated to a charity of the company’s choosing.
The Ferrari Kid’s next event will be January 5th at Main Event on 281 in San Antonio, TX. This is a local charity organization that does take donations. What I like about what Manny Diotte is doing is that it’s a unique approach to getting sick kids out of the hospital and have some fun. That is the goal – fun, and it’s hard to beat riding around in a Ferrari. I have a great appreciation for what Diotte is doing to help children in the San Antonio community.