Raelynn was undaunted as she paraded through the halls of Riley Children’s Hospital Thurdsay with her IV and pole in hand, eagerly “chatting up” neighboring patients and their families. What had the diminutive patient excited was the arrival of IndyCar racers Ed Carpenter and Simona de Silvestro, who spent two hours entertaining patients at The Second Annual Racing For Kids/IZOD IndyCar Series Christmas visit to the prominent Indianapolis hospital.
Obviously enjoying themselves, Carpenter and de Silvestro joked with the Riley youngsters, posed patiently for pictures, autographed their hero cards and handed out Racing or Kids® bags filled with racing memorabilia – hats, UMP IndyCar calendars and miniature race cars and coloring books.
Activity got off on a high note when Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Nicole Garside, Director of Licensing, and Drew Boyd, Customer Products Coordinator, presented Riley representatives with a $1000 check from recent IMS fundraising efforts.
The drivers then visited more than 60 youngsters in playrooms and bedside visits on several floors. One playroom featured a cute, mock MRI machine which undoubtedly helped put the young patients at ease with the real MRI equipment so critical to their care.
In the same playroom Dorian, whose sibling was a patient, bounced from table to table, telling everyone what a “great’ day it was. His father, with a young baby in his arms, smiled approvingly at the scene, which had a movie set aura to it as Fox TV and IMS Productions film crews recorded the event.
Between room visits, Carpenter talked about his big win in October at the Kentucky Speedway which he said “seemed a long time ago” as he readied his new team for the challenging 2012 season. His wife Heather, who ran the “Jeans & Jewels” Indy 500 Fundraiser in the past, helped with Thursday’s visit.
Simona, for her part, said she was looking for a little respite from her busy schedule when she returns to her native Switzerland for Christmas.
Humana’s Lissa Starner made sure each child had a colorful Racing For Kids baseball cap while public relations specialist Monica Hilton took Racing For Kids photographs.
The Riley visit brought to an end the 22nd Racing For Kids season, which featured 20 hospital visits and at track events, including a first time driver visit in Brazil. This year more than 2000 hospitalized youngsters met a myriad of IndyCar’s most popular drivers, who not only brightened the day for their new “friends” but contributed directly to their recovery therapy.
More than half of the drivers who started this year’s 100th Indy 500 are Racing For Kids drivers. Carpenter and de Silvestro were typical of this team of racers as they selflessly spent time caring for the needs of hospitalized youngsters.
Posing for a final group photo by the Riley Atrium Christmas Tree the two racers said they looked forward to coming back.
Racing For Kids®