By Chris Widlic
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The 23rd Race for Riley is back this week, along with cancer survivor John Andretti.
Since 1997, Race for Riley events have raised more than $4.4 million to support the life-saving work of Riley Hospital for Children. Andretti, one of a handful of drivers who has competed in both Indy 500s and Brickyard 400s, has been fighting stage four colon cancer.
Despite undergoing experimental treatment that will extend deep into the calendar year, he wouldn’t miss an event close to his heart.
“We keep breaking fund-raising records,” said John. “Kroger shoppers are donating, and this weekend’s annual Race for Riley wraps up a great week.”
Andretti, along with son Jarrett, have three days of events that include building the trademark Riley red wagons at IU Health, holding a party for Riley kids and their families, and the race is slated for Saturday, June 29 at New Castle Motorsports Park. Andretti won’t race this year, leaving that to budding driver Jarrett, who competed in his first race at the speedway last month at the Indy lights Freedom 100.
Andretti feels like he can relate to what some of the Riley kids are going through too.
“Nicholas Long, who’s been a Race for Riley ambassador for years, has been through so much. At the annual fund-raising Progressive dinner last year, Nicholas was rubbing my back with tears in his eyes. I said are you kidding me? You’ve been through things a thousand times tougher than me. Not only that, I don’t have anything to complain about. I prefer not to have this situation, but all the great things that have happened to me, I’m not going to let this get me down.”