When Aron Oakley met his future wife, Robyn, he quickly discovered her huge heart.
The Penske Racing aerodynamics engineer also realized she had plenty of love to go around. Not long after the couple met in 2004, Robyn shared her desire to adopt a child from Africa.
Two years later, the couple married. While their family has grown with three little girls, ages 1 to 4, the dream of adopting a child in need never waned.
"The adoption is something we’ve discussed for a long time and has been in the plans since shortly after we met,” Aron Oakley said. “I hadn’t given it much thought prior to meeting Robyn, but once I learned about transforming a child’s life and their opportunities, it was easy to want to be a part of.
“Then to experience it firsthand when her sister adopted a little girl from Haiti just after the earthquake solidified it for me.”
In May, the Oakleys ramped up the process. The couple narrowed their search to an Ethiopian boy “to balance our house full of girls,” Robyn said, and enlisted the services of West Sands Adoptions.
For the initial expense to expedite the adoption, the NASCAR community has stepped up to help the Oakleys with “Our Journey to Bring You Home Silent Auction Fundraiser” to be held July 14. For those near Lake Norman, NC, the auction will be conducted at Eez Fusion from 2-5 p.m. ET, but race fans also can participate by phone. Details are at Ourjourneytobringyouhome.org.
Some of the items include a signed firesuit worn by Tony Stewart during his quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title last year, signed sheet metal and tires from Ryan Newman, Richard Petty Experience ride-alongs, wind-tunnel time at AeroDyn A2 Wind Tunnel and race tickets to Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Aron Oakley first met Newman in a thermodynamics class at Purdue University, where the two shared their love for racing and racquetball. He followed his friend to Penske Racing in 2001. Although Newman left the company at the end of 2008 for Stewart-Haas Racing, he’s one of the many friends supporting the Oakleys dream.
“We have both used our connections in the NASCAR community, and everyone has been more than willing to help,” Aron Oakley said. “We’ve gotten so many great items to auction off from a variety of teams. Many have gone above and beyond to give us their support. The auction items are going to be a huge help financially.”
The Oakleys are hoping to raise the $35,000 it will take to complete the adoption, which includes a home study, the dossier and travel.
“We believe that this is our calling, and we will embrace all that is ahead of us with open arms,” Robyn Oakley said. “We have been telling the girls about this journey and spend many nights showing them videos so they see firsthand why this is a passion of ours. Campbell (our 4-year-old daughter) is very excited to have a little brother and even more excited that we can save a suffering child from Africa.
“We believe that all children should have a family who loves them and family to call their own. While we understand that this will not solve the orphan problem, we do hope to change the life of a child and teach our own children what giving and loving is all about."