“Before you leave today, I will ask you, ‘who do you think got more out of the visit, you or the kids?’” That is what Ron Hingst, of Racing for Kids, a unique international charity that draws on the popularity of motorsports to bring attention to the health care needs of children and child health institutions, said before the Morning Light kids paid a visit to children receiving treatment at Miller Children’s Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Care Center.
Jeremy Wilmot, Jesse Fielding and Jenny Tulloch were feeling a bit tentative in going into uncharted waters while the stood in the lobby of the hospital waiting to pay the visit. As soon as they entered one of the playroom areas, Cassandra, Frankie, Adam and the other young patients who came in later to do arts and crafts and play computer games, put them at ease.
The Morning Light movie stars autographed posters, baseball caps and CD’s and introduced the kids to sailing and their movie. The Morning Light crew was in stitches as one patient, who is sure to be a stand up comic once he leaves the hospital, gave them some advice. The wiry little comic didn’t know about sailing, but he knew enough about all other sports, to suggest to the offshore racers who are about to set out on their second Transpac Race, “I imagine it takes a bit of strategy. In a race like that, it sounds like you want to go out strong, but you also want to keep the pace.”
Clearly, the visit to the first playroom had a lot of therapeutic value for all. The next stop for the Morning Light kids and some of the board members of Transpacific Yacht Club was the playroom for kids receiving their chemotherapy treatments. Montel and Ashley, two patients who find themselves in that room all too frequently, entertain themselves during the long process by playing video games. Rather than play GameCube games on their own, they drew Jeremy Wilmot and Jesse Fielding in. Montel trounced Jesse in game after game of Toy Story II while Ashley and Jeremy were Guitar Heroes backing up Pat Benatar and other pop musicians. It was difficult to pull them away from their games and draw the visit to a close.
The nurse who oversees the playroom for the chemotherapy recipients commented that she rarely sees Ashley smile. Jeremy had her laughing and smiling throughout the entire visit. He said as he left the ward, “After you see these kids, most of the things that happen out on a racecourse seem inconsequential.”
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Racing for Kids has helped over 20,000 kids take their mind off of their illness, bring a smile to their face and let them know they have people who are concerned about their well being. Transystems, Transpac 09’s bronze sponsor, is a big supporter of Racing for Kids. Transystems has been aboard Alfa Romeo and other racing machines that are taking part in Transpac 09 and is amazed at the high technology, preparation and teamwork that go into sailboat racing. Quick to draw the association, they assisted in having some of sailing’s racing stars help to make kids happy, just as IndyCar drivers have been doing for 20 years.
To learn more about Racing For Kids, an international organization, please view www.racingforkids.org. To learn more about Miller Children’s Hospital at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, please view www.memorialcare.org/miller/.