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news News Tuesday, June 16, 2020 Tuesday, June 16, 2020 5:27 PM - Tuesday, June 16, 2020 5:27 PM

Virtual NASCAR meet and greet with Shriners Hospitals for Children Patient Ambassador

Virtual NASCAR meet and greet with Shriners Hospitals for Children Patient Ambassador

Shriners Healthcare for Children — Florida Patient Ambassador Theodore loves NASCAR. When Xfinity Series driver Jesse Little invited him to be his honorary crew chief during his latest racing weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Theodore did not hesitate to accept. Safeguards due to the COVID-19 pandemic kept him from actually attending the races in person, but it did not keep Theodore from connecting with Jesse and cheering him on from afar.

The pair had a chance to log on for a virtual meet and greet experience prior to race day and talked all things NASCAR; from speedways they visited to their favorite kinds of cars, as well as other drivers with whom they have had the chance to interact. Still, there was more. They bonded over their love of fishing and exchanged tips on the best bait to use to get a good catch. They even talked about the challenges of going to school during a pandemic, exchanging the pros and cons that come along with distance learning. Most importantly, though, Jesse asked Theodore about Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Since becoming a patient in 2015, Theodore has received care from Shriners Hospitals locations in Tampa and Philadelphia for a condition called hereditary multiple exostoses, which causes abnormal bone growth. Exostoses typically occur at the end of long bones during childhood and adolescence. The growths form spurs, which can cause pain and hinder motion, but many treatment options are available. Just last summer, Theodore had surgery on his right hand to remove exostoses from the growth plate of his middle finger, something he pointed out to Jesse during their Zoom call.

While this was the first virtual interaction with a Shriners Hospitals patient this season, it is not the first time Jesse has interacted with kids benefiting from Shriners Hospitals care. Earlier this year, he hosted an ambassador from Shriners for Children Medical Center in Pasadena named Sebastian at a race in Fontana, California. In addition, Patient Ambassador Kaitlyn from the Salt Lake City Shriners Hospital joined Jesse on pit row at a race in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jesse is a huge supporter of the Shriners Hospitals for Children health care system, as his cousin is also a recipient of our care. He has seen first-hand the difference we make in the lives of children and has become very passionate about our mission, so much so that Jesse has started his own journey in becoming a Shriner with the Williams Masonic Lodge #176 in Cornelius, North Carolina. He is proud to be following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, who was active in the Shrine and Masonic lodges of Spokane, Washington.

“I remember stories he told me that left a lasting impression,” Jesse said. “I knew from an early age I wanted to be involved in helping others through the Shriners organization.”

Jesse, 23, is currently attending the University of North Carolina. He is a third-generation NASCAR driver who currently competes full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, driving the No. 4 Chevrolet Camaro for JD Motorsports, and part-time in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, driving the No. 97 Chevrolet Silverado for Diversified Motorsports Enterprises. We wish him much luck at all of his future races, and are very grateful to have him as a community partner and supporter.

In case you missed it, you can check out Jesse and Theodore’s virtual meet and greet below.