Shirley, 71, is an energetic older adult that loves the thrill of an adventure. Shirley grew up in rural Texas, picking cotton on her family farm from the age of five to 15. As an African American, she lived through a difficult time with segregated schools and racism. In school, she was taught outdated curriculums and therefore wasn’t prepared well for college. Athletics helped her maintain focus during this difficult time, and she worked hard to become successful in her personal and professional life.
At age 17, Shirley married a man in the Navy. He was stationed at Moffett Federal Airfield in Northern California, where he departed from for multiple tours during the Vietnam War. During this time, Shirley was a loyal member of the Navy Wives Club, where she volunteered for over five years, tending to injured soldiers. The Vietnam War had a detrimental effect on her husband’s mental wellbeing, which led to serious problems in Shirley’s life. Luckily, Shirley has a close relationship with her three children.
While persevering through the toughest of obstacles throughout her life, Shirley continued to be intrigued by racecars. Her passion developed at a young age on her family farm—she would drive tractors and trucks long before she was able to get a state-issued driver’s license. When her husband was in the Navy, he and Shirley would host car races at their home, but she was never allowed to participate. Instead, she cleaned the cars and helped prepare them for competition. Through all her years behind the scenes, she hoped one day she could be behind the wheel instead.
Wish of a Lifetime sent Shirley to the race track on July 24th, where she raced in a professional car for the first time. “My lifelong passion for cars culminated in this incredible experience, Once I was behind the wheel, everything clicked,” she said. “I haven’t had a day like this in many years!”
Photo Credits: John Kandalaft Photography