CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Jayden Polk is a 10-year-old east Charlotte boy living with autism and ADHD.
At times he struggles with communication. His mother says it's hard for him to understand personal space or have friends his own age. But the way the world works is a beautiful thing, and for all of Jayden's struggles, he also has a gift many of us don't.
Jayden says he understands and can connect with horses. He says they "get" him.
Jayden is one of our #MollysKids - local kids we feature who are facing uphill medical battles. Producer Brian Stephenson and I recently traveled with Jayden, his older brother and their mom to the horse capital of the world – Lexington, Kentucky - to watch Jayden's dream come true.
Not only did he get to see tons of horses and watch races at Keeneland Race Track, one of the most picturesque tracks in the nation, but Jayden also got to meet one of the greatest athletes of all time: Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
"He's beautiful," Jayden said in a whisper as the horse was brought out of his stable. "He's bigger than I thought. He's so... so... nice."
Jayden walked right towards the 1,200-plus pound stallion.
In return, American Pharoah turned calmly towards Jayden and let the boy pet him and rub his shiny coat.
"I just didn't think he'd be this big," Jayden said again. Then his face lit up in a massive smile, "I like him."
Jayden was able to make the trip because of Dream On 3, a local Charlotte charity that makes dreams come true for kids with challenges. The non-profit – who worked with Valvoline for this specific dream – also gave Jayden and his family front row seats over Keeneland's homestretch for an entire day of racing.
"We love making these kids happy," said Brandon Lindsey, founder of Dream On 3. "We want every child to know they can dream no matter what the obstacles they face. This was a really unique and special dream to make come true – we couldn't have done it without Valovoline's involvement."
"He is having the time of his life," mom Deanna Williams said, as she looked on at Jayden. "Horses calm him. Even talking about them brings him some kind of peace. To be able to see so many, so up close. To be able to touch the nose of American Pharoah who he says is the greatest horse in the world... it's an indescribable day."
Something you have to almost see to believe.