Patient Champions highlight NCH 200 race weekend

Patients who check into Nationwide Children’s Hospital don’t usually have a lot to smile about.

That all changed last weekend at the third annual Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 (NCH 200) NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Ten Patient Champions were selected from Ohio and West Virginia to design a car for an XFINITY Series driver and were treated to a once-in-a-lifetime VIP experience that included meeting their driver and watching the race from their pit box.

“We’re proud of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 for many reasons,” said Terrance Williams, chief marketing officer at Nationwide. “It’s a day to remember for the Patient Champions and their families and for the drivers who are so generous with their time. It also raises awareness of the life-changing work being done at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.”

As a part of the festivities, the Patient Champions also met Nate the Eagle and toured the Make Safe Happen unit with their families. Nationwide’s XFINITY partners even presented the children with gift bags from Taylor Swift.

Before the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports drivers Regan Smith and Chase Elliott toured Nationwide Children’s Hospital and spent time with patients in the hospital’s rehabilitation unit. Then, Smith — whose car featured 10-year-old Patient Champion Laynie Roll — went on to take the checkered flag, marking the second straight year a race car featuring Nationwide Children’s Hospital won the NCH 200.

“Every win is special, but this one ranks right up there with the best wins of my career,” Smith says. “To have the kids here all weekend, to see what they battle through every day, and then to put on a great show really makes this win great. Before the race, I told Laynie we would win this one for her. I’m really glad we made good on that promise.”