Fast cars and big hearts took over downtown St. Petersburg for the Kart 4 Kids Pro-Am Race with proceeds benefiting Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Kart 4 Kids beat its own record this year, raising $185,000 on March 6 and bringing the organization’s total donations to the hospital to an impressive $596,000.
“When the race began eight years ago, it raised $6,400. The incredible effort put forth by these volunteers in 2019 makes Kart 4 Kids the top community fundraiser this year,” explains Jenine Rabin, executive vice president of the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Foundation. “We are so proud of their dedication to our hospital and our mission.”
The Pro-Am kart race started in 2012 to honor the memory of IndyCar driver and St. Petersburg resident Dan Wheldon, who tragically perished in a racing accident. His dedication to children’s health inspired a small group of volunteers to establish a race in his name, and with just one pro driver, and 40 amateurs, the event was launched.
Today, Kart 4 Kids continues to raise funds through participation in the race, which is held during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and through race memorabilia for auction including signed helmets, fire suits, gloves and more purchased by adoring fans.
“Each year, this event raises more and more, and we are able to purchase expensive life-saving equipment necessary to deliver the best care for the toughest pediatric cases,” Rabin says. “The power of their philanthropy makes a direct impact upon the type of care our medical teams give to kids.”
This year’s event was headlined by IndyCar driver and St. Petersburg resident Sébastien Bourdais and Porsche factory driver Patrick Long, both of whom appreciate the opportunity to help the hospital every year.
"This is a great way to kick off the IndyCar year," Bourdais says. "There are a few guys that take the kart race a little bit too seriously, but everybody is just happy to participate and raise money for a great cause."