TOLLESON, Arizona — Thursday was a good day at P.H. Gonzales Elementary School. A fun day — literally.
The NASCAR Foundation was in town, as part of the national series race weekend at ISM Raceway in nearby Phoenix, hosting the “Speediatrics Fun Day Festival” at the school. All of the P.H. Gonzales Elementary fourth-graders attended, which amounted to approximately 125 children learning about the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle by staying active, eating well and in the process, having a great time in living life to the fullest.
“This event is about education but it’s also about inspiration and motivation,” said The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Nichole Krieger.
NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Spencer Gallagher, Rev Racing/NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver Ruben Garcia Jr., and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and NASCAR Whelen All-American Super Late Model Series driver Cassie Gannis also participated in the festival and competed with The NASCAR Foundation’s three mascots – Chase, Safety Sam and Victory Lane – for the students’ attention.
“What a day — signed more autographs than I will at the track I’m pretty sure,” Gallagher said. “It’s been an amazing day here today.”
The festival began with a question-and-answer session between students and the drivers. Gallagher, Garcia and Gannis talked about how living an all-around healthy lifestyle is vital to their racing careers. There also were other guest speakers, in addition to Krieger. ISM Raceway President Bryan Sperber spoke to students as did Lupita Hightower from the Tolleson Elementary School District, P.H. Gonzales Elementary School Principal Cynthia Mills and Tolleson’s mayor, Anna Tovar.
Words were followed by action, which the students especially liked. After all, this was a festival. Gallagher, Garcia, Gannis and the foundation mascots led a warm-up session before students headed outside to participate in various NASCAR-themed activities that included the Goodyear Tire Race, the Jump Rope Challenge, the Sponge Relay Race, Pinewood Derby racing and Temporary Tattoos. Students were also treated to healthy snacks and refreshments.
“Wow, what an incredible event this morning,” Hightower said. “The students were so happy, I am sure they will remember Speediatrics Fun Day Festival for the rest of their lives.”
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The Speediatrics Fun Day Festival — one of several such events The NASCAR Foundation hosts annually in NASCAR race markets — was a celebration of the foundation’s support of the Banner Health Children’s Community Clinic which is on site at P.H. Gonzales Elementary.
This year, the foundation is providing a $20,000 grant through the Speediatrics Children’s Fund to the clinic, which serves underinsured and uninsured children from the Tolleson community, at no cost. A check for that amount was presented on Thursday during the festival.
“We are proud to support the efforts in the Tolleson community to provide access to medical care to kids who need it the most,” Krieger said. “Today’s Speediatrics Fun Day Festival was the perfect way to celebrate our partnership and to inspire kids to lead a healthy life. Special thanks to Spencer, Ruben and Cassie for coming out to participate alongside the kids.”