The Horsepower 500
IndyCar Drivers Race on Tricycles to Raise Money for TherAPlay
Writer: Matt Keating
Several IndyCar Drivers jumped on their adaptive tricycles May 8 for a hilarious tricycle race event. It was all to raise money and awareness for equine-assisted physical and occupational therapies at the 2018 Children’s TherAplay #Horsepower 500.
The tricycle race event was held at the Carmel-based foundation, and the drivers who participated were Jay Howard, Josef Newgarden, James Hinchcliffe, Kyle Kaiser, Charlie Kimball, Zach Veach, Stefan Wilson, Graham Rahal, Robert Wickens, Scott Dixon, Spencer Pigot, Jack Harvey, Conor Daly, Alexander Rossi, and Juan Piedrahita.
The drivers participated in different heat races at the #Horsepower 500 and generated a lot of attention for The Children’s TherAPlay Foundation, 9919 Towne Road, Carmel, which is a nonprofit pediatric outpatient clinic just north of Indianapolis that serves children with special needs.
“We’re always upping our game when it comes to special events at the Foundation,” says Hillary McCarly, executive director of Children’s TherAPlay Foundation Inc. “And this was absolutely, hands-down, the best year yet for the #Horsepower 500. Folks have had only great things to say.”
Tickets sold out three weeks in advance for the event.
“And for an event that’s only in its third year, that says a lot in terms of how excited people are to be a part of it this,” McCarly says.
Parents and kids both love the race.
“I could tell you about the emails and comments we receive from the parents, about how their faces absolutely light up when they talk about how special the day was for their kiddos who so often don’t have the same opportunities as other children,” McCarly says. “It’s such a big day for these families. The fact that funds raised through this event make equine-assisted physical and occupational therapies possible for these kiddos. It’s such a gift all the way around.”
The race car drivers also love the event.
McCarly says that the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden literally stopped the #Horsepower500 originator, board member Anders Krohn, on the street and asked to be a part of the event.
“That tells you exactly how the drivers feel about it,” McCarly says. “And every driver asks to come back each year. Considering the number of events these guys are invited to, that’s huge. Just like with the kiddos, when you see the drivers their hearts are in their eyes. It really means something to them.”
McCarly adds that the event gets a little bigger each year.
“I know May is all about the Indy 500, but the #Horsepower500 is quickly becoming another staple event in the month,” says James Hinchcliffe. “Everyone can see what a phenomenal program this is and being part of the event was such a blast. Outside of the [Indy 500] race itself, this has to be one of the coolest events on our calendar.”
The drivers love the laughs they get during the race.
“There’s also a real and very palpable sweetness between the drivers and the kiddos,” McCarley says. “It takes all of two minutes after their initial meeting for the drivers lean over, scoop the kiddos up in their arms, and off they go. How often do you get to be a part of something like that?”
There are also several other activities aside from the race: face-painting, having your caricature drawn, photo booth, autographs with the drivers, games, exploring IndyCars and pace cars, enjoying the deliciousness that comes from Hot Box Pizza, Stacked Pickle, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, Bru Burger and Kona Ice. It’s a fun and action-packed afternoon, a beautiful way to kick off #ThisIsMay.
The event also raises plenty of awareness.
“We are passionate about hippotherapy because, day in and day out, we see it working wonders in the lives of children with special needs,” McCarly says. “The awareness that comes through this event helps us reach even more families, which means that even more children can benefit.”
Similarly, leading-edge medical treatment comes with a price tag. Each hour of treatment costs Children’s TherAplay $183, but the average insurance reimbursement is only $101. Funds raised through #Horsepower500 help close that $82-per-treatment gap, ensuring that children with special needs will continue to have access to these life-changing therapies.
The Children’s TherAplay Foundation is one of the few clinics in the country dedicated to providing physical and occupational therapies on horseback for children with special needs. Their therapists combine a sensory-rich, child-centered clinic with hippotherapy – the movement of horses – to provide carefully graded motor, sensory and neurological input.
McCarly says that Children’s TherAplay provides more than 700 one-on-one treatments each month for Central Indiana children 18 months to 13 years old with diagnoses such as cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, traumatic brain injury and congenital abnormalities.
For more information on Children’s TherAPlay, visit childrenstheraplay.org or call 317 872-4166.