By Ann Marie Shambaugh
Driver Scott Dixon is among the elite few to have tasted the ceremonial milk after winning the Indianapolis 500. On May 10 he once again captured the checkered flag – but this time, a bottle of carrot juice was waiting for him after crossing the finish line.
Dixon was one of several Indycar drivers and commentators to race in the inaugural Horsepower 500, a fundraiser for Children’s TherAplay. The Carmel clinic provides physical and occupational therapies on horseback for children with special needs.
Each driver raced on behalf of a Theraplay client and therapy horse on a bright red adaptive tricycle. After pedaling across the dirt arena, the drivers grabbed a carrot from their Theraplay teammate to carry in their mouth as they zoomed to the finish line.
Driver Charlie Kimball said the experience was “a little different” than maneuvering an Indycar.
“On an adaptive tricycle you have to provide your own horsepower, and I’m used to just putting my right foot down and having a good response from my Chevy engine,” Kimball said. “It was a lot of fun.”
TherAplay Executive Director Hillary McCarley said that early estimates show that Horsepower 500 raised about $25,000, which is enough to help pay for the cost of therapy not covered by insurance for nearly 200 treatments. The event also included the presentation of customized Amtryke adaptive tricycles to three TherAplay clients.
“Every single one of the drivers has asked to come back again next year,” McCarley said. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”
After winning the inaugural race – with a little bit of help from some of his friends, admittedly – Dixon said he enjoyed getting to know his teammate, Garrett Imel, a 5-year-old from Anderson with cerebral palsy who visits TherAplay weekly for treatments.
“It was nice to sort of break way from the distractions you have during the month of May on the racing side,” he said. “It was cool to talk and chat and not care about anything else.”