For 15-year-old Grant Reed, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway was an experience of a lifetime.
The Nationwide Children’s Patient Champion — and huge NASCAR fan — joined three other Patient Champions for a meet-and-greet with Dale Jr. and behind the scenes experiences.
The four Patient Champions joined more than 1,000 Nationwide employees who made the trip to Kentucky to cheer for Dale and show support of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the life-saving care it provides.
“As we continue to shine a light on the world class research and care provided by Nationwide Children’s Hospital, this year we took the Patient Champions program to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,” says Mike Boyd, senior vice president of Enterprise Brand Marketing. “By leveraging our NASCAR partnership and close relationship with Dale Jr., we had the perfect opportunity to elevate the hospital’s profile on a national stage.”
This year, Nationwide teamed up with Dale Jr., Nationwide Children’s Hospital and its Patient Champions to raise awareness and funds for the hospital through the Ride with Dale Jr. to Help Kids Everywhere Campaign and the Dale Jr. Foundation’s Driven to Give Gloves program.
The Ride with Dale Jr. to Help Everywhere Campaign raised more than $50,000 for the hospital. The hood of Dale’s No.88 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet SS featured the names of more than 350 fans who donated to the hospital through a special fundraiser.
During the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Dale Jr. will auction four pairs of his race-worn signature skeleton-themed Alpinestars gloves. Each pair of gloves feature a different color at each race, representing one of the Patient Champions:
• 8-year-old Aiden Vanwanger – Blue gloves for autism: Aiden was diagnosed with Autism at an early age, but, under the care of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, he’s enjoying school in a mainstream classroom.
• 15-year-old Grant Reed – Lavender gloves for pediatric cancer: Grant was diagnosed with medullablastoma, a brain tumor in the back of the head near the brain stem, more than four years ago. Thanks to the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Nationwide Children’s, he regained control of his speech and physical abilities.
• 11-year-old Tarissa Suchecki – Gold gloves for hearing impairment: Tarissa was born more than two months premature and spent more than seven months of her life at Nationwide Children’s due to complications, including profound hearing loss. Now, Tarissa loves fourth grade and pageant competitions.
• 11-year-old Dalton Miller – Gray gloves for diabetes: Dalton has Type 1 Diabetes, but it doesn’t stop him from being an active middle schooler. He works closely with his clinical team at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to manage his condition carefully, letting him live a normal life.
“Following my recent visit to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, it was great to join with the hospital’s Patient Champions and Nationwiders on race day in Kentucky,” says Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Having the Nationwide Children’s Hospital paint scheme on my car was a special way to show our racing team’s support and appreciation for the life-saving care provided at the hospital.”
View the slideshow below for a behind-the-scenes look: