NHRA Mello Yello drivers Brittany Force (left), Courtney Force and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal made an appearance together today at Shand’s Children’s Hospital in Gainesville, Fla. to bring some racing-themed goodies to current patients at the facility.
The driver tour consisted of a group-setting in the activities room, where the children we able to try on the driver’s helmets and play with goodies the drivers brought with them. They then went to bedside visits, followed by a stop in the ER pediatric unit. The kids received mini diecasts of John Force Racing and Graham Rahal race cars, autographed hero cards and hats, stickers and John Force all-time No. 1 qualifier foam fingers.
“I was really glad to be able to go Shand’s Hospital with my sister and Graham today before racing starts for the weekend. All we wanted to do was to leave there knowing that we made the kids smile and hopefully made their day a little better,” said Castrol Edge Top Fuel Dragster driver Brittany Force.
“People are always saying they think NHRA drivers are really brave, but I think those kids are the brave ones. A lot of them wished us luck for this weekend and I’ll definitely be thinking about them while we’re out there.”
The Force sisters are in the Gainesville area this week in advance of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at historic Auto-Plus Raceway, March 14-16. Rahal, who is between testing sessions for his IndyCar team, came out to support John Force Racing in the sunshine state.
“I welcome groups like this here anytime,” said Jennifer Light, M.D., pediatrics medical director in the UF department of emergency medicine. “First of all, it’s a break in the routine and for kids that are injured or sick, I think anything fun and out of the ordinary is good. If they can meet a hero or someone who is big or famous, they love that. The kids love things like this. I think it helps distract them from what is happening here.
“We always appreciate everyone’s support and the more we have people talking about pediatric units, the more it helps us. We know that if someone has a sick child, they will think of us. We always accept donations for toys and mementoes and things like that and the kids love that,” she added.
(Photos courtesy JFR; Click to enlarge)