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de Silvestro Leads Driver Visit to Children's Hospital

J. Patrick Wright, Racing For Kids Executive Director
| Jul 20, 2012

Kyler Lane-Cecil looked like a veteran racecar driver when he walked out of Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital,  hopped into the Racing For Kids® IndyCar parked in front and assumed a rightful position in the cockpit. The only thing he didn’t do was fire up the engine.

It turns out the six-year-old patient from Macklin, Saskatchewan is a racing veteran of sorts. He’d done the same thing in the IndyCar show car last year when Racing For Kids visited the Edmonton, Alberta, Canada Hospital prior to the running of the 2011 Edmonton Indy race. “He loves race cars” offered his mom, Darcie Lane.

Thursday (July 19), IndyCar racer Simona de Silvestro, along with Star Mazda Series racers, Ryan Tveter and Gustavo Menezes, spent nearly two hours with patients and their families at the highly regarded Edmonton facility located on the campus of The University of Alberta.

The trio greeted a large group of patients from far-flung reaches of Western Canada. Mikhail McDougall, age five, from Vancouver Island, British Columbia came the farthest. ”We were on vacation when he got sick” said his mom. Mickhail loved his turn behind the wheel of the Racing For Kids show car.

 Eric Weidmann, age 10, resides a little closer in Fort Saskatchewan, AL about 25 miles northeast of Edmonton along the winding North Saskatchewan River. As big a thrill as it was for Eric, seeing Simona and the others, it may have been an even bigger thrill for Linda, his mom, who confided, ”I have been an IndyCar fan since I was a little girl.”

Evan Wallace, age 4, lives “two hours east” of Edmonton and took his turn patiently waiting for autographs, hero cards and a popular purple Racing For Kids baseball cap.

A bubbly Cheri Gladue, age 13, from Edmonton, drank in the festive summer atmosphere outside of the hospital. But her enthusiasm turned into wide-eyed amazement when reporters and cameramen for CTV and Shaw Global TV arrived to cover the event, which was then featured in afternoon and evening telecasts.

With Child Life Leader, Diane Tuterra, showing the way, Simona, Ryan and Gustavo also paid visits to a number of bedridden patients in several of the Stollery wards, even donning hospital gowns and masks to spend time with one youngster in isolation.

Across the hall patient Nolan Yaremko, told Simona he hoped to get out of the hospital to come to Sunday’s Edmonton Indy. With that news, the Switzerland native’s eyes lit up and she promptly offered pit and paddocks passes to Nolan and his family. “I will personally give you a tour of my (Lotus HMV Racing) transporter,” she promised.

Talk about “making” one patients’ day. Nolan was one happy dude.

Always a fun stop for Racing For Kids, this year’s visit to Stollery Children’s Hospital was no exception. For nearly 100 patients and their families, Thursday’s racing respite was welcome relief from everyday hospital tedium and difficult treatments and procedures.

It is a sure bet that the smiles and laughter Simona, Ryan and Gustavo produced left behind a new batch of enthusiastic IndyCar fans.  


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