Everyone Smiles with Racecars

The roar of race engines and brightly colored funny looking vehicles drew lots of attention when they drove up the sidewalks in front of the UMass Memorial Medical Center on Friday, July 19.

Three NER drivers took time from their busy schedules to haul their cars to the hospital as part of our annual Racing Against Leukemia activities. Steve Introne brought his red, white and blue SRF Gen 3 – making a slow, outside pass on a riding lawnmower as he turned the corner to park in front of the main campus doors. Bryan Rogers, decked out in a full race suit, pulled his bright orange FV in next to him. And rounding out the trio was Kathy Barnes with her shiny, red HS Mini Cooper.

Annual Tradition

As has become the tradition for this annual gathering of race vehicles, the region always shows up on one of the hottest days of the summer. Luckily, the vehicles could be parked in the shade of the roof overhang on the front walkway to provide some relief from the direct sun, and make it easier for kids, hospital staff and families to check out the cars and climb in and out of each.

For the next three hours, it was a steady stream of heads turning and huge grins. Children admitted into the hospital for treatment were brought outside by the caregivers to give them a break from their rooms and a chance to have #funwithcars. Many of those huge smiling faces were also on the siblings of patients. It’s often forgotten how the siblings of sick kids need a distraction and a little fun in their lives as well. We had at least a couple kids come out to play with the cars and then take checkered flags and NER stickers back to the rooms of their twin brother or big sister who were not able to make it down.

No Hair to Grey Hair

But it wasn’t just little faces smiling. The young-at-heart were just as enthralled with the racecar spectacle. Medical and support staff, parents, and even a few grandparents took the opportunity to sit behind the wheels. Even joking that they might be able to get in, not sure they could get out!

“Even being hot, the whole day was a lot of fun,” said Steve Introne. This was his first visit with his SRF3 to the hospital. Bryan and Kathy have attended in previous years. “The kids were awesome. And I’m happy the region could be there and do this for these families.”

One set of parents were so excited about the cars they asked if the drivers would wait while they ran home and picked up their two other boys to bring them back. Of course everyone agreed. The little sister even announced “this was much better than taking my nap!”

2019 RAL – Let’s Make it Huge

Be sure to check out the full gallery of photos taken during the day below. The region will return next month to present the final check after all RAL activities have completed. Last year we donated over $9000. Let’s put that number in the dust this year for these kids. Raffle donations are still being accepted for the auction at New Hampshire Motor Speedway August 3-4, and cash donations can be made directly through our FirstGiving site here.