MACHESNEY PARK (WIFR) – When a terminally ill patient is placed on hospice that typically means the end of the line, but not for one Stateline driver.
Life has been one big race for Tom Schneider and while most of the time he's driven solo he's running his final laps as a newlywed.
"It's great to have a woman stand by me like that," says the Machesney Park man.
Tom married the love of his life, Christine, and he did so in a ceremony at home because Tom is a hospice patient. Doctors told his chemotherapy won't help him anymore. Tom was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer last summer. It's a disease he knows he will not survive.
"I will cherish every moment that I've had with him and that I will continue to have until I lose him," said Christine Schneider.
Tom is used to living by the seat of his pants, but today you may find him resting on the couch surrounded by loved ones.
D.J. Smith is Tom's good friend and long time track rival. Smith says he will take the many lessons learned from Schneider over the years into his life and hopes to be a better man because of them.
"Someone gets in an incident on the track," Smith recounted, "[Tom] is sitting in the stands, he's jumping over the fence to go and see if they're alright, and that's with everybody. He's one heck of a guy."
Tom is a six time figure eight champion at the Rockford Speedway. It's a legacy his son Nick hopes to carry on.
"I just feel like me and him have so much in common," said Tom's son Nick. "We think alike; we do almost everything the same. I'm just hoping I can make him proud."
The greatest struggle for the family is perhaps not knowing how much time he has left but's it's clear Tom wants to finish strong.
Tom has two wishes; one is for Rockford Speedway to add him to their walk of fame. The speedway says they're considering it, but can't guarantee a decision will be made soon.
Tom's last wish is to be driven around the figure eight track at the speedway one final time in his hearse on his way to his final resting ground. The speedway says they will gladly do that for Tom.