Cory McClenathan, driver of the Fram Top Fuel dragster in the 2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, will participate in a charity softball game June 3 in Indianapolis in memory of his young friend Caroline Symmes, who passed away from cancer at age 5 in December.
Gates will open at 5 p.m. at Victory Field for the Tony Stewart Foundation Presents the Caroline Symmes Memorial Celebrity Softball Challenge, benefiting the Indiana Children's Wish Fund. Besides McClenathan, Colts all-pro defensive end Robert Mathis and Pacers forward Roy Hibbert will join other Indianapolis celebrities to play in the event.
"The Indiana Children's Wish Fund is also connected with the Riley Hospital for Children, which Don Schumacher Racing has supported for many years," said McClenathan, second in the NHRA Top Fuel points standings after nine of 23 season events. "This year, they're holding the event in honor of Caroline, who died at only 5 years old from a debilitating disease. My fiancee, Debi, and I visited her several times last year, and she stole my heart away. And during several of the NHRA races this year, we honored her with a specially painted pink helmet that I wore while racing.
"We’re trying to keep her memory alive and help in the fight for a cure. She had a Wilms' tumor, which is a rare type of kidney cancer that affects children between the ages of 2 and 5. It has a 90-percent cure rate, and the doctors really thought they were going to be able to cure Caroline, but it attacked her stomach, and the tumor grew back. We thought at one point she was going into remission, but she wasn't, and it took her life in December.
"Her parents, Libby and David Symmes, have been so courageous, and I hope we can keep Caroline's memory alive with the help of many people in the Indianapolis area who are supporting this cause so that we can find a cure for this disease."
McClenathan does not know what position he'll be asked to play in the five-inning softball game, but he's ready for anything. "I'll do whatever they want me to," he said. "Maybe I'll be a catcher or play in the infield. I'm game, and I'm excited to be playing with some genuine pro ball players. It should be fun, and it's for a very good cause."
The day before the game, Wednesday, June 2, McClenathan will visit Bethesda Christian Elementary School in Brownsburg, Ind., from noon to 2:40 p.m. with DSR teammate Antron Brown, driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel dragster. "This is going to be a very relaxed, fun day for the kids, and for us," said Cory Mac. "We will be playing games and enjoying the afternoon. The theme is Race to the Finish. A race car will be on display, and we'll sign autographs for everyone."
For tickets to the softball game, log on to www.ticketmaster.com.