FONTANA, Calif. - A Santa Maria woman, and NASCAR fan, now has some real horsepower in her battle against a challenging medical condition.
At the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana (near Los Angeles), when driver Ryan Newman was not going 205 miles an hour and was able to get up to speed with an ecstatic Stephanie Snow.
During a break over the weekend, Newman and Snow met in the garage area with high-performance engines growling in every direction.
This action has revved up the 23-year old who has a condition called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, or F.O.P. It is very rare and can turn muscles, tendons and connective tissue of those afflicted, into bone.
Before the race, and after making personal requests through Newman's race team, Richard Childress Racing, and one of the main sponsors, WIX Filters, her family made the long drive from Santa Maria to San Bernardino County to see Newman. The company representatives welcomed her into a special area, to see her favorite driver.
Snow said it was amazing, even at first glance, on the outside of the garage fence. Then she was brought inside, just steps away from Newman's car.
Snow had seen Newman making some practice laps, and told him "when I saw you, I said 'go!'" she said with a long scream and a big smile.
She talked about animals, a common interest with Newman and gave him FOP bracelets.
"She might be a fan of mine but she is a fan of NASCAR and to come out and enjoy a NASCAR weekend is pretty cool," said Newman. "She gave me more bracelets than I have owned in my entire life," said Newman while holding the FOP bracelets. "Her FOP bracelets are special and one of these will be in the car on Sunday."
Snow has been involved in animals since she was a child and her moment with Newman bolted together two of her favorite interests.
"He loves animals just as much as I do and they are my number one inspiration. He is my number one and he gets me through everything every day," said Snow.
She says even her doctors have noticed the interest in NASCAR and ask her often about the races and especially Newman.
Her mother Jennifer watched the up-close encounter and said, "Things like this brings out the best in us. Live every day for the moment and Stephanie certainly does that. This is a part of it."
It was also a birthday weekend gift for Stephanie from her parents.
The long-awaited meeting with Newman fueled a dream come true.
"He chooses to take the time out of his crazy schedule to make that effort to talk with his fans and care about his fans," she said while holding an autographed picture of Newman that she will treasure forever.