Passion for Mustangs honored with parade

Members of The Villages Mustang Club drive around YourLife of Wildwood for David Duval.

David Duval can spot a Mustang when he sees one. 

Even though he lives “in the moment,” when his wife, Sharri, takes him out on drives, he spots them without fail.

David, a resident at YourLife of Wildwood memory care facility, got his first — and only — Mustang, an orange 1970 Mustang fastback, when he was in the Air Force in 1972.

“It’s always been a love of his life,” Sharri said. “He’s just had a passion for Mustangs.”

YourLife staff members had planned to celebrate National NASCAR Day on Friday. 

In advance of the event, Sharri had an idea.

“I just happened to Google ‘Who’s the president of the Mustang Club’ and I sent him an email,” Sharri said.

In the message to Mustang Car Club President Joe Raviele, Sharri described her husband’s dementia and made a special request.

Because Mustangs are David’s passion, would the members of The Villages club be willing to drive a few of them over to YourLife so David could see them from the windows and enjoy NASCAR Day even more?

Raviele, of the Village of Buttonwood, set things in motion with the club, which met the request with a huge reception.

It turned into such a popular idea that by the day, the caravan of Mustangs grew from 30 to about 55 cars and included more than 100 people, with horns blaring.

More venues were added to the itinerary on the way to YourLife, including UF Health The Villages Hospital and HarborChase of Wildwood.

Clad in his Mustang shirt, David and more residents watched the parade safely from inside.

“It was awesome,” Sharri said, who watched from outside. “There were, like, 57 Mustangs, and they came in honking their horns, and waving the American flag.”

She said Brenda Wilson, the director of Wellness at YourLife, stood with David, and she told Sharri he recognized that all of the cars were Mustangs.

“I knew he would,” she said. “It was so good for him.”

Raviele was surprised by the large outcome and described the experience as uplifting for everyone. He noticed that staff members of the facilities were taking videos and photos.

He spotted David through a window, wearing his custom-made Mustang shirt with an image of his ’72 fastback.

“He was giving us a thumbs-up, and he was all smiles,” Raviele said. After the parade, a member of the club donated his colorful LED Mustang etching, which stays lit 24 hours a day, to David to keep in his room.

And the club made David an honorary member at the event, with a formal presentation in his honor planned.

“It’s a wonderful thing to do to reach out to someone who knows about the cars,” Raviele said. “He’s someone I can bring a little joy to and get the

club behind it.”

Sharri couldn’t be more thankful to Raviele and the Mustang Car Club for its hard work organizing the parade, a memory she was able to share with her kids in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Georgia, thanks to FaceTime.

“I have tears of joy because it worked out so well, and I’m so glad he enjoyed it,” she said.

Staff writer Julie Butterfield can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5254, or julie.butterfield@thevillagesmedia.com.

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