CONCORD, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2014) – A special guest will ride along with Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher and the No. 60 team in this weekend’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Six-year-old Luke Benner’s face appears on the No. 60 as part of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champion program.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, Benner’s parents noticed that his Lymph Nodes were very large and bulging from his neck. An emergency room trip, a doctor’s visit and an antibiotic did not show any improvement, so blood work was completed. Based on the results, Benner was immediately sent to Nationwide Children's Hospital for evaluation where further analysis showed that he had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Benner quickly began chemotherapy treatments, including a schedule that would average an every other day visit to Nationwide Children’s Hospital for six to eight months, with a full treatment term of up to three-and-a-half years. The Mount Gilead, Ohio native has not skipped a beat since his diagnosis. The charismatic six-year-old still enjoys swimming, Legos, superheroes, dolphins, all food (especially watermelon) and race cars.
“Luke is a great kid,” said Buescher. “He has such a positive attitude and is so full of life and energy. I’m proud to carry his name and picture on the No. 60 Mustang this weekend. What the folks at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital do on a daily basis is amazing, they are the real heroes. I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
Benner had the opportunity to meet Buescher just a few weeks ago at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, while Buescher was there for media in advance of the race.
“Chris is really nice to hang with,” said Benner. “I think it’s cool he drives a fast car and wears a helmet.”
However, come Saturday, Benner is most excited to see his face on the No. 60 Mustang.
“My face is going to be huge!,” said Benner. “I bet no other kid named Luke has had their face on a car!”
When Buescher straps in his No. 60 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Ford Mustang for 90 laps of racing around the 2.4-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, high expectations are riding with him.
“Chris has to win because my name is on the car,” said Benner. “And it's orange!”
Nine other NNS teams are also participating in the Patient Champion program, including fellow Roush Fenway teammates Ryan Reed and Trevor Bayne.
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 will air live on ESPN at 2:45 p.m. ET on Aug. 16.