CEDAR RAPIDS – A special night for a special group of youngsters.
If it goes well, ann annual event may be born.
The Lil Racer Car Club will host “Kids With Cancer: Their night at the track” Friday during weekly points races at Hawkeye Downs Speedway, offering free admission, snacks and other activities for children battling cancer. Gates open at 6 p.m. with races at 7:30.
Mitch Swinton runs the Lil Racer Car Club, a group providing recreational, educational, and entertainment choices for children 14 years old and younger at various race tracks in Eastern Iowa. He thought of the idea last year when he reached out to a high school football player who was dealing with cancer that he read about online. Swinton said instead of one to help any youth forget about their ailment for a short time.
“It would be a fun deal for kids with cancer in their lives, and their families, to come to the track,” Swinton said. “Just try to show them a good time for awhile.”
The deadly disease has had an indirect effect on Swinton recently. He has participated in a fundraising walk for cancer over the last year and is trying to plan one at Hawkeye Downs. His dedication to providing free and fun activities through his youth car club, a nonprofit charity, compelled him to organize the night as well.
“I have a special friend back home that their mom is going through Stage 4 breast cancer. That kind of hit me,” Swinton said. “I deal with all sorts of kids in my club. Healthy and unhealthy kids and I know what kids go through. I know what kids want.”
The event, in cooperation with the American Cancer Society, will give children with cancer a meal deal, consisting of a slice of pizza, popcorn, candy bar and a pop from Papa John’s. They will also get a chance to meet some of the drivers and get to see some of the race cars in the pits after the feature races of six competitive divisions. A raffle for prizes, and all children who bring their bicycle can participate in a race on the quarter-mile track.
Swinton has received a lot of support. Doug Yates, a dirt track race car driver from Monticello, and his wife Carrie, of Monticello’s Family Insurance Center, have helped with sponsorship of the event. McGrath Automotive and Bryan Galde of Automotive Fuel Systems in Marion have pitched in to make the night possible.
“It’s very interesting,” Swinton said. “A lot of people are concerned about this kind of thing and what some of these kids deal with every day.”
Swinton said he doesn’t know what to expect for attendance, but if it is successful he plans to build on it for next year.
“I’m just hoping we get a good turnout,” Swinton said. “I don’t know what to expect. I’m just trying to do something for them. Hopefully, it will go well.”
If you would like to attend, you are encouraged to contact Swinton via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at (319) 430-8734.