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news item News Friday, September 6, 2019 Friday, September 6, 2019 4:11 PM - Friday, September 6, 2019 4:11 PM

Patient given VIP treatment by NASCAR driver and Shriner David Ragan at Darlington 500

Autographs by NASCAR driver and Shriner David Ragan; a snack craft table where children transformed Twinkies® into race cars; a bounce house emblazoned with Disney’s Cars characters – it was all part of Race Day 2019 at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville.

“Last year, when David Ragan was set to drive the Shriners Hospitals for Children-branded car at the Bristol race, we organized this event as a sort of pep rally to cheer him on,” said Trana Pittam, director, marketing and communications, Greenville Shriners Hospital. “Everyone had such a great time that we looked forward to doing the same prior to David’s participation this year in the Darlington race. In addition to our patients having a fantastic time, his Shriner brothers came out in full force to support him.”

Both years, David extended an invitation to one patient to be his special guest at the race. This year, 14-year-old cerebral palsy patient Brannen was excited to receive the invitation to attend the Darlington 500.

“He’s been a ‘gear head’ kid since he could talk,” said Brant, Brannen’s dad. “Brannen had a great time talking about compression ratios, push rods and engine displacement. And of course he loved seeing the cars up close at full speed. So, being here – meeting these guys, talking to them – he’s having a blast.”

Brannen has been a patient at the hospital since he was 3 years old.

“I am at a loss for words,” said Brannen. “They’ve [the Greenville Shriners Hospital staff] done so much for me.”