Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin was one of the first stops for Racing For Kids® in 1990 and since then has always been a special stop for our charity. Today was no different as 80 young patients and their siblings enjoyed a two-hour visit from IZOD IndyCar’s talented Ana “Bia” Beatriz.
For well over an hour “Bia,” who is very personable, greeted youngsters in front of the hospital, helping then get in and out of the colorful “Dads Root Beer” show car, autographing their Racing For Kids caps, posing for numerous pictures and telling them about her #24 Ipiranga IndyCar which she pilots for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.
The number of well-informed racing fans she encountered surprised Bia. Katie Godlewski, age 14, of Sussex, WI with her mother, Jackie, talked about Katie’s dad, Ben, who has raced IMCA Modified cars at nearby speedways in Beaver Dam, Hales Corners and Slinger.
Lana Rogers said her son Logan, age 4, of Appleton, WI has developed an affinity for cars and racing because of his dad. Logan sister and brothers, Catlin, age 14, Preston, age 11, and Trinity, age 9 nodded in agreement.
Also from Appleton, Devin Hansen, was very happy when Bia signed a special racing t-shirt which is a surprise Father’s Day gift for his father, Pete. Devin and his mom, Amy, hoped the secret would hold until Sunday.
Among the many new fans, the young Brazilian racer found at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin were Nick Schetter, age 15, and his parents Mike and Dawn of Carney in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Abby Duket, age five, of Waukesha, WI along with her mom said they were delighted to meet one of the rising young female IndyCar racers. Morgan Lunch, though only two years old, was delighted as he sat in the show car. His father, Mike, said he’d be spreading the good word about Bia back home in Arnold, MI.
Handing out the popular IZOD IndyCar calendars was Brian Mehrstedt, Territory Manager for UMP, which produces the calendars. For Eric Krupka, CEO of EHK Motorsports, the whole event was a moving experience, as he made sure each child had a colorful red or yellow RFK baseball cap. Racing For Kids’ Event Manager Debby Wright photographed the entire visit and will soon have those pictures posted on: www.racingforkids,org. You should check them out.
Moving inside the hospital, Bia visited a number of children confined to their rooms. Most moving was her stop in the room of Nic Volker, aka Bat Man. Nic has been a long time patient of Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. In 2009, he met with RFK racer Mike Conway, now driving for Andretti Autosports. At that time, Nic, dressed as bat man, greeted Conway while driving his Bat mobile kiddie car in the hospital lobby.
The picture of Nic and Mike became a popular feature of Racing For Kid’s website and publicity material. According to Amylynne Santiago Volker, Nic’s mom, Nic has since become a national media figure as he battles a myriad of conditions with courage and resolve.
Nic wanted to make sure Bia stopped by and she did for a little conversation and photos.
Bidding Nic adieu, Bia then waved good-bye to her Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin “friends” and headed for The Milwaukee Mile track for meetings with her engineers and crew. She was second quickest in a recent IndyCar test at the Milwaukee track. There are a hundred or so youngsters in Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin crossing their fingers for a good race for Bia on Sunday in the Milwaukee 225.