When NASCAR Cup driver Brennan Poole drove onto the track at this year’s Auto Club 400 in Fontana, he had a few unusual passengers along for the ride on his #15 Spartan Mosquito-sponsored Chevy Camaro—unicorns, robots, rockets, giant multicolored ice cream cones and flowers, and even Godzilla fighting with a giant octopus—all drawn by patients at CHOC Children’s. It’s safe to say that Brennan’s car stood out from the pack.
The car also prominently displayed Brennan’s personalized CHOC Children’s “fund racing” website—CHOC.org/15—which has raised almost $12,000 since it went live in March. However, Brennan, nicknamed “The Bull” since childhood for his perseverance, isn’t waving the checkered flag just yet. He hopes to raise $100,000 to benefit CHOC Children’s programs, from mental health services to an expanded neonatal care unit to programs that support children with autism.
The idea for a CHOC-themed car came to Brennan and his girlfriend and manager, Lindsey Giannini, in a flash of inspiration. As Miss New Jersey 2015, Lindsey had visited kids at Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) hospitals, which led to Brennan getting involved. The pair visited a CMN hospital in their hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, and decided to do something memorable around Brennan’s California race at the Auto Club 400 on March 1. They contacted the CHOC Foundation to set the plan in motion. “We went with the idea of creating a CHOC-themed car to raise awareness and funds for the hospital,” Brennan explains. “We wanted to do something big for CHOC Children’s and spend some time with the kids while we were there.”
The CHOC car began to take shape when several patients drew pictures, which were shared with Brennan and Lindsey. “To collect those pictures…I can’t tell you the enjoyment we got out of that,” Lindsey says. “My favorite memory of this year is going through all those drawings for the first time. I’ve seen firsthand the difficulties these kids go through. Sometimes it’s just something small that makes them feel like they’re a part of something bigger than their sickness.”
After the pictures were selected, Brennan and Lindsey visited CHOC Children’s to show them what the car was going to look like with the drawings on it. Brennan also drew cars with the kids, signed autographed NASCAR hero cards, and even played guitar. He also made an appearance on CHOC’s in-house radio station, with some of the kids helping him out in the booth as he answered questions. “The radio interview is broadcast into the kids’ hospital rooms, so it’s a great way to reach those who may not be able to come face to face with you,” Brennan says.
The CHOC car was a massive hit with race fans at the Auto Club 400. “I can’t even count how many fans came up to me and said, ‘My child was treated at CHOC’,” Brennan recalls. “That was the most humbling thing. I don’t think I truly understood how many people are affected by CHOC. I think if you can help support these kids and their families with what they’re going through, it’s something really special.”
To join Brennan and Lindsey in their “fund racing” effort, go to CHOC.org/15 to make a gift. Your support can have a profound effect on the lives of so many pediatric patients at CHOC Children’s.
If you would like to start a fundraiser of your own for CHOC, click the button below.