Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart visits the Small Miracles Therapeutic Riding Center

Tony Stewart, three-time NASCAR champion, displayed a different side of his personality Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly after attending a high-stakes competition meeting at the Stewart-Haas Racing headquarters near the NASCAR epicenter in North Carolina, Stewart decompressed for over two hours at the Small Miracles Therapeutic Riding Center in the rolling hills of Northeast Tennessee.

Stewart not only chatted with a group of wide-eyed special needs children, he helped lead their horses around the barn. He also posed for family photos, signed autographs and shared personal stories.

“This place is really close to my heart because I have a cousin who has a similar situation,” Stewart said. “To see how programs like this help children, it’s much bigger than what we’re doing with racing.”

Stewart became so enamored with the young riders that he had to be pulled away at the last second to conduct a scheduled satellite interview with ESPN.

“To see how these kids connect with their horses and ponies is pretty cool,” Stewart said. “We over complicate our lives a lot of times. It’s neat to be able to detach from all that and make life simpler for a couple hours.”