Drivers bring smiles to children

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Drivers Bring Smiles to Children's faces with Speediatrics Visit in Daytona. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Having screaming fans cheer for her during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver introductions last year at ...

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Drivers Bring Smiles to Children's faces with Speediatrics Visit in Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Having screaming fans cheer for her during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver introductions last year at Daytona International Speedway was thrilling. And having Richard Petty -- 'the King' -- congratulate her on a job well done after the race on the high-banked superspeedway was something that she never imagined in her wildest dreams.

But Tina Gordon's proudest moment of her first weekend in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last year came when she visited the pediatrics unit of the Halifax Medical Center in Daytona -- Speediatrics.

Gordon, along with 11 other NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers, spent one afternoon during Speedweeks 2003 visiting with the children at the hospital. She signed autographs, hugged and played with the kids, and talked to them with a friendly Southern drawl that made them feel at ease with her.

And that's when it happened.

Gordon was visiting with a 10-year-old little girl -- she gave her a coloring book and just talked to her. Smiling at her visitor, the little girl spoke for the first time since becoming a patient at the hospital.

When Gordon was told what had happened, the tears flowed from her eyes.

"That was one of the most touching moments of my entire life," said Gordon, driver of the No. 13 Microtel Inn and Suites Chevrolet.

"It makes you feel proud to be part of a sport that allows you to make such a difference in people's lives like that. I'm looking forward to going back to the hospital this year."

This Tuesday afternoon, Gordon and several of her NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competitors will return to Speediatrics to visit with another group of sick children in the 32-bed pediatric ward.

They will be one group of several NASCAR drivers who will visit during the Speedweeks festivities at Daytona International Speedway.

The drivers will sign autographs, take pictures and spend quality time with the kids. They'll talk about school, racing and just about anything to see the children's smiling faces.

"We had our best finish ever at Daytona last year and really got off on the right foot," said Dennis Setzer, driver of the No. 46 Silverado Chevrolet. "However, what sticks out in my mind about Daytona last year was all the great kids that we got to visit at Speediatrics prior to the race.

"Nothing made me feel better than spending some quality time with those kids last year. I am looking forward to seeing them and their smiling faces again this year."

Craftsman, the Official Tools of NASCAR, has sponsored the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series since it began in 1995. According to a 2002 EquiTrend survey, Craftsman is rated the No. 1 brand in the nation among men for overall quality. Sears sells more than 1,600 Craftsman hand tools that are guaranteed forever. If any Craftsman hand tool ever fails to give complete satisfaction, return it for free repair or replacement. Sears offers Craftsman tools, merchandise and related services nationwide through its Full-line stores, Sears Hardware stores, Sears Dealer stores and Orchard Supply Hardware stores, as well as through specialty catalogs and online at www.sears.com and www.craftsman.com.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dennis Setzer , Tina Gordon , Richard Petty