The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday March 25th

N.C. Hospital installs entertainment for kids receiving treatment

The N.C. Children’s Hospital is set to unveil a new piece of equipment today aimed at helping pediatric patients race toward recovery.

A Dream Racer — a miniature race car for patients to sit in while they receive medical treatments — will be installed in the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology on UNC’s campus.


Time: 12:30 p.m. today
Location: First floor of the N.C. Children’s Hospital

The car will be equipped with a PlayStation, DVD player and CD player, as well as an IV and oxygen tank holder.

“As you can imagine, having cancer, you’ve got chemotherapy and other treatments, and they can take several hours at a time,” said Danielle Bates, communications director for the children’s hospital.

“The Dream Racer car idea is meant for the younger children that get treatment,” she said.

“You can imagine the fun and distraction that a console like that will offer.”

UNC will join 30 other hospitals in the nation, including Duke University Hospital, that have installed Dream Racers, two more of which are in the works.

UNC’s car will be donated by Restart Your Life, a company in South Carolina that markets and distributes natural dietary supplements.

Jack Grossman, the company’s presidential master distributor, will be attending the unveiling ceremony at the hospital today at 12:30 p.m.

Grossman said since the company distributes health supplements, it was already in the health arena and was looking to help young patients.

“Our company wanted to find an organization that we thought could benefit children,” Grossman said.

He said the company found Children’s Dream Racer, the organization that supplies the race cars.

Grossman said he decided to put the car in the N.C. Children’s Hospital because he was visiting Southport and met a registered nurse who mentioned her neighbor is the chief doctor of the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology.

The Dream Racers are built by Mark “Smitty” Smith, former NASCAR race car builder. The cars are funded by sponsors like Restart Your Life, and each costs around $10,000 to make.

The sponsor chooses the colors, advertising, logo and graphics that go on the car, and then decides where to place it.

Smith said his organization is always looking for companies, groups and individuals to fund Dream Racers to help more children.

“The advertising that people put on Dream Racers stays forever,” Smith said.

Smith said he has heard many success stories from hospitals that have already installed Dream Racers.

Some children leave their treatment eager to come back for more, he said, while another smiled for the first time during his experience in the car.

Smith said the work he does is rewarding beyond words because of the reaction from the patients.

“The reward is not in the money,” he said.

“I promise you that.”

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