NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Brad Coleman, of the No. 27 Ford Fusion Kimberly-Clark car, received 27 helping hands during the Kroger 200 at O'Reily Raceway Park.
The event marked the 10th year of a partnership between Kroger Central Division, sponsor of the race and owner of food stores, pharmacies, and fuel centers in the Mid-Atlantic States, and Riley Hospital for Children (located in Indianapolis). To celebrate, Kimberly-Clark worked with Riley Children's to orchestrate painting handprints representing 27 Riley patients and their families onto Coleman's race car.
"We've been the beneficiary of Kroger activities in the past," says Jason Mueller, communications manager for Riley Children's Foundation. "This awareness event supported an annual fundraising event that Kroger hosts for us—the 'Race for Riley' go-cart event. So, this partnership with Kimberly-Clark was just one way to branch off and further our relationship."
The handprints were a change from the typical sponsor-driven paint scheme and were done with multiple colors and with the children's names in them. Across the car's hood read the slogan, "Making a difference, hand in hand."
"The kids represented on the car were current and past patients that we knew would appreciate the opportunity of having their names on the race car," says Mueller. "It was one way to get their minds off treatment while enjoying one of their interests."
Riley Hospital hosted a 'NASCAR party' the day before the race so that Coleman could visit with the children who would be featured on the car. "It is very inspiring to have these children featured on our race car . . . I'm thrilled to be a part of such a one-of-a-kind program," Coleman said in a statement.
For Riley Hospital and the patients and families involved the event was especially meaningful. "We are very excited that these children will be a part of such a memorable event," Mueller said. "I know these families have been through a lot and are grateful for the opportunity."