What drives our passion for cars? They are made to be driven. For the average American, owning a car is about getting to and from destinations quickly and safely.
Driving enthusiasts are inspired by something different. Top end speed, exotic styling, precise handling and premium performance brand names find their way in the dreams and garages of those who have a fascination with the sports car.
With price tags sometimes in the six-figure range, the dream of driving a high-end car remains just that, a dream. For a select few, the passion for these specialized vehicles becomes an obsession and reality.
For Eric Peterson and his wife Amity of Portland, Oregon their passion for exotic automobiles has led to a garage with a dozen luxury high-end sports cars. Their collection includes dream rides like the Ferrari F430 F1 Spider, the McLaren MP4-12C Spider, and the Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe. To own just one of these vehicles is special, but to have a collection of them is a phenomenal blessing.
For the blessings the Peterson’s have been afforded in life through personal business and career ventures, they are equally driven by their passion to give back to the community. One of the many reasons they founded the non-profit, Dream Drives for Kids.
“Amity and I believe Dream Drives for Kids is our vehicle to give back to our community which is something we feel strongly about. The initial response and support we received locally let us know that we were definitely onto something,” said Eric.
So how does a garage full of luxury cars give back? It has been the Peterson’s experience in collecting these amazing cars; children are drawn to them. The mission of the non-profit is to create the greatest amount of joy, for as many children and their families as possible with the cars.
“It’s really a simple thing that we do — show off some fancy cars, go for a short drive, and give out some cool presents — but the response we get lets us know that it is working for everyone involved,” said Eric.
The children served by the Dream Dives for Kids program are racing toward more than just a finish-line, but recovery from significant medical challenges and life-threatening illness. By participating in a dream ride, they get to trade in being sick for smiles, laughter and joy for several hours.
The children are able to select one of the cars from the garage on the day of their Dream Drive. The kids and their families are encouraged to explore, ask questions and take pictures of the entire collection during their visit to the Dream Drives garage.
During the child’s drive, safety is the number one concern. Younger children are carefully buckled in using appropriate booster or child safety seats to both the parent’s and Peterson’s satisfaction.
“Sometimes the kids and I talk about the cars, sometimes we talk about their health, doctors and hospitals, but more often than not we just talk about life, tell jokes, and enjoy the ride. It’s important to me to make a sincere connection with each child so that they are comfortable, able to relax and have fun,” said Eric.
Families participate in the Dream Drive by following along, ensuring that the kids are never far from their parents. Both the roar of the powerful engines and excitement from the child’s experience is captured on video to create a memory of the child’s special day.
“My goal on every single drive is to see big smiles, hear laughter, and return the child to mom and dad; having them excitedly tell about what a great time they had,” said Eric.
The Peterson’s drive to give back does not stop with their own garage. Dream Drives for Kids has started to expand their efforts outside of Portland through the “Sit and Snap” program. “Sit and Snap” connects generous car owners with families across the country and gives children amazing access to rare and exotic sports cars.
The Peterson’s Portland garage of trophy cars continues to help create a scrapbook of happy memories a community can share in cherishing. “We have moms and dads in tears seeing their child smile for the first time in years, but they are tears of joy,” said Eric.