CARMEL, Indiana – As they enter the month of May, drivers for the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires got in some early competition on Tuesday. But this race allowed them to help raise awareness for a worthy charitable cause.
The third #Horsepower500 benefited the Children’s TherAplay Foundation and provided the opportunity for 14 drivers to meet and team with special-needs children for a fun-filled afternoon of competition.
Children’s TherAplay offers outpatient physical and occupational therapy for special-needs children up to 13 years of age. It uses horses in innovative hippotherapy sessions that have proven effective for patients afflicted with autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injuries and more.
Adaptive tricycles were used for Tuesday’s competition, when the drivers paired with “kiddo” patients for a series of fun and unpredictable races in front of a large crowd that donated to the foundation to attend. Anders Krohn, driver analyst for the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and the driving force behind the third annual event, was amazed at its growth in such a short time.
“Having 14 drivers come this year shows their grasp for the event and that they want to support this cause,” the former Indy Lights driver said. “I’m so thankful for everyone that came out and it shows the awareness for this cause is growing.”
Krohn is no stranger to working with charitable causes. He did the same when he lived overseas.
“When I lived in Norway, I worked with a few charities and worked with special-needs children,” he said. “I didn’t get that chance when I first lived here in America. I stumbled upon this foundation on the internet, and reached out to them to see if I could check it out. Once you’re here, you’re able to understand the privileged situation you are in and how great of a local cause this place is.”
Current Verizon IndyCar series points leader Josef Newgarden was among the drivers who donated time. In the Team Penske driver’s eyes, this was a great start to the month.
“This is a super-neat deal,” the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion said. “This is the first time I’ve been here and to me, I’ve always liked these types of therapy where you can bring in horses, for instance, to help impact a kid’s life and for us to bring awareness to a program like this. I’m excited to be a part of this.”
Newgarden, who has won two of the first four Verizon IndyCar Series races this season, kept up his winning ways in the #Horsepower500 with “kiddo” Mason as his teammate. Newgarden won his heat race and followed it up by defeating fellow drivers Spencer Pigot, Zach Veach and Jack Harvey in the finals.
Also participating were Verizon IndyCar Series drivers Conor Daly, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Jay Howard, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, Robert Wickens and Stefan Wilson, as well as Indy Lights driver Juan Piedrahita.
Even though he did not advance from his heat race, Hinchcliffe was all smiles. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver even tried to “assist” teammate Wickens in his heat race to keep the team spirit.
“This is one of the events we look forward to in May,” Hinchcliffe said.
“I was here for the first one and had no idea what was going to happen. I’m so glad I agreed to do this. What this facility does and how they utilize the horses for the kids’ treatments is incredible. No one appreciates your time more than the kids and that means a lot to help them out for even a day.”