The long awaited return of Racing For Kids to the Hill was all the more thrilling and enjoyable this year because of all the obstacles that needed to be overcome to bring it back for its 15th year! Uncertainty over the pandemic, a fire in our building the week before – we had a lot […]
The highly regarded Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto gets little public attention in the abundance of publicity afforded the mega-hospitals in Canada’s largest city. However, the good work performed at Holland Bloorview did not escape the attention of three Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Series stars, who delighted more than 50 patients at the dedicated rehab facility in a Racing For Kids visit Thursday morning.
Neil Alberico, Matheus Leist, and Garth Rickards spent over an hour with the Holland Bloorview kids, many battling severe disabilities with grit and determination.
The Carlin Racing trio engaged the youngsters in lively discourse about the Honda Indy of Toronto weekend racing expectations, the “ins and outs” of big time open wheel racing, and their personal career goals. Joining them was the increasingly popular USF2000 racer Robert Megennis of Team Pelfrey.
When word was received that the racers were coming to Holland Bloorview, the staff declared that this “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles Week” at the hospital, turning the facility’s gym into a six-stop racing fair.
Among the activities were a car photo booth, hot wheels painting, “Make Your Own License Plate” contest, “Pin The License Plate On The Car” challenge, and a remote control car competition.
“Wow that’s pretty cool,” Alberico said as a young patient talked him into the “Pin The License Plate” competition. The little girl gleefully directed the “eyes shut” racer to the car target on the gym wall and watched him pin the license remarkably close to the proper spot on the paper car.
For Leist and Rickards, currently 2nd and 14th in Indy Lights competition, their first Racing For Kids hospital visit was a very rewarding experience as they brought giggles, laughter, and excitement into the lives of the plucky Holland Bloorview patients, some of whom have been in the facility’s care for six years.
Moving through the gymnasium signing autographs, handing out the distinctive red Racing For Kids baseball caps and popular Wikki Stix, each racer engaged the kids and their parents in one-on-one discussions until every last child had a plethora of autographs and a working knowledge of open wheel racing.
“Thank you. You’ve made a big difference today,” said Erin Johnston, Manager Public Engagement at Holland Bloorview as she closed the program. Her sentiment was echoed by Sandra Hawken, recently appointed President & CEO of Holland Bloorview Hospital Foundation who said, “this was a special program for us today. We turned it into a whole week event.”