TOLEDO, Ohio (Sept. 29, 2016) – “Put your hands up and back away from the car!” Or, better yet…put your handprints all over the car. But these aren’t just anyone’s paw prints…these precious hands belong to children with life-threatening illnesses who ARCA driver Josh Williams continues to visit across America.
The 2016 “Josh Williams Hospital Tour” has been well underway all season long and continues at Kansas Speedway when the ARCA troops assemble in Kansas City for the 16th annual Kansas 150 coming Friday night, October 14.
Like he often does, Williams will sneak into town a day or two early to visit with the local children’s hospital.
“It’ so much fun,” said Williams. “It’s cool to go hang out with the families and see the kids. It’s pretty cool to see them get so excited over something…anything.”
And of course, Williams does it just as he should; he puts on his superhero suit – AKA his ARCA driver uniform – and makes his rounds. In knowing some of the kids are too sick to leave their rooms…not to worry…Dr. Williams makes house calls, working his magic up and down the hospital halls, going room to room, child by child, parent by parent.
“We usually go room to room…a lot of the kids can’t leave their rooms and come outside.”
The “come outside” part includes a special treat when Williams unloads his No. 6 Musselman’s Apple Sauce Chevrolet in the parking lot for the kids to see, touch and climb aboard if they choose. For those they can’t see the car up close and personal, Williams will soon make his way to them.
“Some are really shy in the beginning and we get ’em excited and fired up, and that’s the best part. For a small moment, they’re able to get away from all the worry or the situation they’re in.”
Williams also understands that his wholelistic, homespun brand of medicine does wonders for the parents too.
“Honestly, that’s sometimes the hardest part. Seems like it’s harder on the parents than the kids sometimes. But they’re (the parents) real appreciative. They know we’re there to try and brighten everyone’s day…they think it’s cool, and they’re real supportive.”
For the obvious health reasons, the hospitals supply all the paper plates and the goop the kids love to plaster their hands in. From the paper plates, the tiny handprints are transcribed digitally to Williams’ car where they find a home anywhere and everywhere. Each handprint is personalized with each child’s name on the palm.
Williams has already visited six children’s hospitals around ARCA races in 2016 and, in addition to his upcoming Kansas appearance, plans to do more in the off-season.
“We’ll definitely do more in the off-season…just to keep it going. It’s too much fun, and we feel like we’re making a difference.”
Williams did a similar tour in 2015. In 2016, he started out at the Halifax Health Speediatrics in Daytona Beach, Florida in February. From there, he visited Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut in March. In April, it was onto Monroe Carell, Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville. There were two stops in July, at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Lehigh Valley Children’s Hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In August, Williams made his way to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
Next stop on tour – a children’s hospital in Kansas City, Kansas…then the ARCA race at Kansas Speedway. So when you see the No. 6 Musselman’s Chevy go by on the track, put your hands up in honor of the hands on the car.
“Maybe we can give them something to cheer about at Kansas. We’re gonna change a couple things we learned at Kentucky to be better at Kansas…and see if we can get back inside the top-three.”
Go ahead and change the set-up if you choose, but don’t change anything else.