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Posted March 27, 2014
St. Pete Grand Prix Drivers Take a Spin by All Children's Hospital

 Ryan Hnter-Reay
A patient tries on a hat given to him by Verizon IndyCar Series driver and Racing For Kids representative Ryan Hunter-Reay during his visit to All Children's Hospital.
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Before maneuvering the downtown city streets of St. Petersburg this weekend, Verizon IndyCar Series star driver and veteran Racing for Kids representative Ryan Hunter-Reay took a different kind of spin Thursday morning.

Hunter-Reay made his way around corridors of All Children's Hospital, bringing big smiles to patients - along with goodie bags from co-sponsors Racing for Kids and Humana, filled with hats, coloring books, and toy replicas of his No. 28 IndyCar. The past series champion signed autographs and chatted with children and parents, all part of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, culminating in Sunday's 2014 series season opener.

A regular visitor to All Children's, Hunter-Reay was joined by representatives from Humana as well as Detroit-based Racing for Kids. The charitable organization is celebrating its 25th anniversary and 10th year visiting ACH patients - on the 10th anniversary of the Grand Prix, to boot. Also taking part were Indy Lights drivers Zach Veach and Matthew Brabham.

"Seeing the reaction of the kids - this is why we do it," said Racing For Kids Executive Director J. Patrick Wright. "The thing about this is that the drivers get more out of these visits than the kids do. They come away and they're so happy to see kids who are enthused and really fighting hard. It inspires them and makes them realize how fortunate they are to be doing what they're doing."

That was more than evident as Hunter-Reay connected with one child after the next, like 11-year-old Hali Douglas, who grinned and blurted out "Thank you!" as she donned an autographed racing cap and got a chance to examine the driver's official helmet up close. He posed for pictures throughout his visit, explained how his car can reach speeds of 235 mph and reminded kids and parents to tune in the race on Sunday. "Make sure to root for No. 28," he said.

"Everybody loves kids," added Hunter-Reay, a father himself. "But I definitely enjoy seeing the kids here at All Children's and it's a great way to kick off the weekend. It's important to do whatever we can while we're in the community. We get a lot out of seeing how optimistic kids are when faced with adversity. It helps puts things in perspective."