The last time Racing For Kids® visited Las Vegas’ Children’s Hospital of Nevada was in 1996 and rapper Tupac Shakur, who was gunned down the night before, was a patient in the adjacent University Medical Center Hospital UMC). Security was very high and The Racing For Kids team had to get clearance through a phalanx of policemen and hospital security officers before greeting young patients inside.
The atmosphere could not have been more different Wednesday as IZOD IndyCar racer Ana “Bia” Beatriz and Firestone Indy Light racer Anders Krohn delighted 50 young patients and their siblings for 90 minutes of entertaining racing banter, a myriad of photo opportunities, autographs and a host of memorabilia.
The two first greeted patients around the IndyCar show car positioned in front of the hospital’s Trauma Unit and then they made bed-to-bed visits in several of the Children’s Hospital wards. Ana races for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, while Anders drives for Belardi Auto Racing.
There were plenty of smiles and lively chatter outside.
Alyssa Cavey, age 10, of Las Vegas, nodded quietly that she’d never been so close to a racecar and loved the experience. Her mom Shannon who was pushing Alyssa’s wheelchair was a little more animated about the experience and upon meeting Ana effused: “I like women driving race cars.”
Anders for his part moved quickly from child to child signing a hat for Anthony Martenez, age 4,of Las Vegas and then Bryanna Duggan, age 10, who let her caregivers know she was perfectly happy spending as much time as possible outside in the warm dessert sun.
The “Youngest Patient ” Award went to Sophia Domanquez, age 1, who was gently held by her mother Fatima also of Las Vegas, while Ana signed a hat and hero card for her daughter.
Before heading inside Ana presented the hospital with tickets to Sunday’s IndyCar World Championships at The Las Vegas Speedway. The league has provided each driver in Sunday’s race with 100 tickets for their favorite charity. Ana used her tickets to bring hospitalized youngsters to the race in the name of Racing For Kids. Happily accepting on behalf of UMC’s Children’s Hospital of Nevada were Karen Gordon, Pediatric Services Coordinator, and Sara Richins, Child Life Specialists.
Behind the scenes Dr. Bill Pinsky, Racing For Kids founder, helped youngsters get in and out of the show car. His wife Karen had a Racing For Kids baseball cap for every youngster, while Jamie George, of United Medical Products (UMP), made sure each child had a special takeaway bag which contained a colorful UMP IndyCar Calendar, miniature scale racecar and coloring book.
During the bedside visits Ana, of Brazil, joked with Anders, of Norway, telling him he needed to learn Portuguese, while he responded that he’d be happy to teach Beatriz his native Norwegian.
But one grandmother had another idea and offered of both drivers: “your English is so good.” Quipped Krohn: “I guess that is what happens when you are surrounded by Americans.”
Racing For Kids®
Photos by Debby Wright