Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jeff Gordon's Other Passion: Helping Kids

Jeff Gordon opens up about racing
and his other passion: helping kids 

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The smallest and the youngest cling to their pacifiers and their blankets. The oldest discuss the details of chemotherapy that never seems to end.

Grabbing one of the IV bags beside his bed, a patient says, “This is Ifosfamide. This is a weird one.”   They all cling to hope that comes from the visitor who cares—NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon.

“You're a fighter. That's what it takes,” Jeff Gordon told a young patient.  “Each child deserves a happy and healthy life…and if there's one child that doesn't make it, it's one too many.”

So much in Jeff Gordon's world is big—horsepower, the introductions, the success. So when he started his children's foundation, he drove it all the way to Africa.

“In Rwanda, children are dying of cancers that they should not be, that are very easily curable and treatable,” he said.

Now he is bringing that mission home.

A new partnership between the Jeff Gordon's Children's Hospital and the renowned Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte means more visits and more patients.
With the focus treatment, research and quality of life, Gordon’s foundation zeroes in on young cancer patients who need help. 

“That's what drives me. When I've had those one-on-one experiences. See what they're going through, and see the successes and the failures.  That's what drives me to want to continue to do more,” he said.

Posing for photos, Gordon gives young patients a break and a souvenir.

“It's a privilege for me to get a chance to meet the kids and their families. And, you know, I just hope that it makes an impact in a way that helps them out in some way, somehow,” he added.

Their struggles against cancer often last years. These are the times that can't last long enough.  In the next room, Gordon offers encouragement.

“Brandon, you're not going to give up either, right,” Gordon asked one patient.

“No, way,” the boy countered.  “Thank you for coming."

“You're very welcome,” Gordon smiled and nodded.

The smallest and the youngest still cling to their pacifiers. And that extra dose of hope that comes from the visitor who cares.  

by GREG BAILEY / NewsChannel 36 Staff

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