Sometimes even grandma wins big at the track.
At this juncture, it’s important to stress that Beth Haupt didn’t actually have any money riding on the children’s go-kart race — they tend to frown on that sort of thing, you know — and that when her grandson, Aidan Adams, approached her with a fistful of dollars, she was as surprised as anyone.
The dollars in question were Aidan’s winnings, the monetary equivalent of a pat on the back — or however many $500 gets you — for being one of the better drivers on the track that day.
Haupt assumed that the money the young man handed her was a deposit in the Bank of Grandma, somewhere his funds could be held temporarily and withdrawn at his discretion, which in all likelihood would be as soon as they got home.
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Aidan had to set her straight. This wasn’t a deposit.
It was a donation.
It’s very awesome. He just never ceases to amaze me with his generosity.
Last February, Haupt underwent her third surgery for thyroid cancer. Aidan has been a part of her Relay for Life team since he was 5 years old and in the past half a decade, his role has expanded from participant to co-leader and benefactor.
“It’s very awesome. He just never ceases to amaze me with his generosity,” Haupt said.
She choked up a bit during that last part, so much so that even the 10-year-old in the room noticed. Aidan asked if she was going to start crying again in a voice that indicated that he would rather she did just about anything else.
They have a good rapport, these two — the kind reminiscent of all the great grandmother-grandson pairings. Haupt tells Aidan that if he keeps playing with the pin he received for making the honor roll at Port Matilda Elementary School, it will break.
He in turn begins negotiating for a firm start date on their trip to Hersheypark later this summer.
When you ask Aidan when or why he decided to donate a portion of his go-kart winnings to his grandmother’s Relay for Life team, he mostly just shrugs. He had money, someone he loved was sick — maybe it can be as simple as that.
Simplicity, after all, is one of the great things about being 10 years old. When some dude with a notebook asks why you started racing go-karts, you can look him dead in the eye and tell him that you wanted to go fast.
“I remember telling my dad ‘I want to do this someday,’ ” Aidan said.
He was just 5 at the time and if that’s old enough to race, then it’s certainly old enough to have a hand in building your own go-kart.
His dad is a welder, and together they constructed the body of his first vehicle.
Aidan took it slow for his first year on the racing circuit but has since accumulated a pool of wisdom — use your brakes, do crazy things and try very hard not to go over bumps — that has helped him build up quite the collection of trophies.
Unfortunately, wisdom also has its drawbacks.
Haupt was diagnosed with cancer in August 2009. Aidan was 5 years old when he accompanied his grandmother on her first survivors’ walk — but how much he really understood about what was happening is open to debate.
“It probably wasn’t until the second surgery, which was last year, that he was able to grasp what was going on,” Haupt said.
He hasn’t let go since. As a co-leader of grandmother’s Relay for Life team in Centre Hall, Aidan goes to meetings, helps with event preparation and sells purple ribbon stickers to raise cash.
As for his racing winnings, he usually donates half to the relay squad and puts the rest into savings. Aidan would eventually like to save up enough money to go to a Metallica concert but...
“That’s not going to happen,” Haupt said.
It turns out that there are some things that can’t be bought — like grandma, for instance.
None of this seemed to bother young Aidan. Thursday was the last day of classes, grandma is taking him to the pool this summer and there was even talk of turning August’s Hersheypark excursion into an overnight trip.
He can afford to be a little generous.
“There probably aren’t very many 10-year-olds that would want to part with their money and donate it,” Haupt said.