After twenty-two years of visiting Children’s Hospitals across the US as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and Canada, I’ve learned that every hospital visit is a unique and special experience. But I have to say our visit on Thursday to Children’s Hospital of Alabama was really exceptional for the sheer energy and excitement generated.
The talented young Indy Lights driver, Anders Krohn was here bringing his own brand of smiles and laughs to all the young patients as he signed his hero cards and talked to them about the upcoming race.
While we saw a total of at least 80 children in visits to bedsides and in the clinics, more than fifty of them were able to come outside and have a turn with the showcar. Each child seemed to relish their time in the car – getting photographed and enjoying the feel of it all. One kid was so excited the he left his shoe behind in the nose of the car. No one was quite sure what to do. So I climb in and reclaimed it!
As usual our Racing For Kids hats were a big hit. That is, except for young Cade – oh he wanted an autographed hat alright – but wasn’t quite sure if he was ready to give up the John Deere hat he was wearing when he arrived. We assured him that was fine – he could save his new RFK hat for later.
And then there was Gabriel – who is really pumped up about the weekend of racing ahead of him. Gabriel, who is an outpatient at Alabama Children’s, has been chosen to participate in the national anthem ceremony at the start of the race on Sunday. He told us to be sure to look for him as one of the bearers of the American flag.
We were delighted to have Jamie George from United Medical Providers on hand to pass out the official 2011 IndyCar Calendars, which UMP produced and sold to help raise funds for our mission. The children and their parents seemed particularly pleased with these terrific calendars featuring full color photos of several popular IndyCar drivers.
All in all, it was the kind of an event – full of excitement, laughs and special moments – that makes me proud to be a part of Racing For Kids.