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Kidsday: Taking off as a car racer

I began racing at the age of 6. Racing has been my passion my whole life. I have grown up around cars, because my grandfather has an auto body shop in his backyard.

My goal from the very beginning of my racing career was to make it into the top of NASCAR. One Sunday about eight years ago, my grandfather and I took a ride out to Riverhead Raceway. That day would change my life forever. When we got to the track, we saw go-karts racing around it.

I asked my grandfather if he could buy me a go-kart. On my sixth birthday, I got the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for. My grandfather bought me one! That was the beginning. During the next couple of years, I would win two back-to-back championships in 2008 and 2009. Those two years were the best years in my racing career.

I stopped racing go-karts last year so my grandfather and I could save up enough money to buy a race car. We bought a Legends race car over the summer and only ran it once at Riverhead Raceway. Hopefully these next couple of years it will bring me a positive outcome. It's going to be a challenge because my grandfather and I agree you need a lot of money to be very successful at this sport.

It would be pretty cool if we found a sponsor to cover the costs when we need to buy something for the car or to pay to get into the track itself. It would make it a whole lot easier and a lot less stressful for my grandfather and me.

My mended heart

I was born with a "broken heart." At birth, I seemed completely normal, but over the next two years, I grew increasingly skinny. I would be panting just from sitting down, and even if I would be eating everything, I stayed abnormally thin. No matter what, I kept getting thinner. Finally, at 2, my parents took me to a doctor, who diagnosed me with a heart murmur. Soon after, I had a long surgery on my heart. I was knocked out, and then the doctors had to go through my rib cage to get to my heart. The surgery was successful, but since then, until I was in fifth grade, I had to visit the heart doctor every other year so they could check out how my heart was doing.

The doctor who worked on my heart said he saw a comedian in my eyes, and now, I love to make my friends laugh. I am fine, and my heart issue has not affected me since. There is a large scar right down the middle of my chest, and a couple of indents in my stomach from removed staples. But even so, I am grateful for them, because they symbolize how great my surgery went, because if it didn't go well, I could have died.

--Kidsday Reporter Cassandra Kroll

CLASS OF THE WEEK: Marie Amella-Pesko's eighth-grade English class, SAYVILLE MIDDLE SCHOOL

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