Twenty-seven-year-old Sgt. Jason Thompson has been serving his country since 2003. His love of cars, dedication to this nation and devotion to his two special needs children made him the perfect candidate to be awarded a once-in-a-lifetime NASCAR-style surprise.
"I grew up loving cars,” Thompson told HLN. “My dad was a huge 'Smokey & the Bandit' fan. I remember when I was eight years old and said, 'Dad, I want a Bandit.' And sure enough, when I was 14 years old, my dad helped me get a Bandit. Not very many people can say they had their dream car before they were able to even drive."
Thompson passed on his affection for cars to his young boys, 6-year-old Haden and 5-year-old Jason Jr., who he raises on his own. Haden suffers from cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, but that doesn't stop him from decorating his wheelchair with Lightning McQueen, his favorite character from the Disney movie, "Cars."
Thompson is the public affairs chief for 4th Sustainment Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas. His job is to tell the soldiers’ stories.
“I'm out there to show their story, to make sure that they get the credit that they deserve for all the hard work that they're putting in,” Thompson shared.
But this time, it was Thompson’s turn to be honored for his service.
Texas Motor Speedway and Speedway Children’s Charities surprised Thompson by sending him to the Tony Stewart Smoke Show, a charity event that has taken place for the past five years at the Texas Motor Speedway in Dallas.
Thompson attended driving school, drove around the track in a NASCAR automobile, and met one his favorite drivers, Tony Stewart.
“I had no idea that any of this was gonna happen,” Thompson said. “It’s an honor that they would choose me. I'm just one soldier out there doing my job, trying to make sure I keep food on the table for my kids. But it feels good.”
The highlight of Thompson’s day was being able to introduce his children to Stewart.
“At one point, my son, Jason, got down with the little cars, and he was playing on the ground. And Tony, he got down there and he started playing with him,” Thompson explained. “I just thought that was the greatest thing!”
To read more about Sgt. Thompson’s surprise in his own words and to learn more about Speedway Children’s Charities go to CNN.com/Impact.