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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Inn Car Show Brings Joy to Children at NIH

Collins and Inn family smile in front of show car

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (l) spends time with pediatric patients staying at the Children’s Inn at NIH and their families during the second annual Secret Little Car Show. He is shown with (from l) Abel, 11, and Amana, 8, siblings of Amani, 13, who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant for sickle cell disease at the Clinical Center, and their parents, Lydia and Moses.

Photo: Ken Visser

In front of Nissan GTR sportscar, Lee smiles with Collins on motorcycle

Posing in front of Driven to Cure’s Nissan GTR are Bruce Lee, father of the late Driven to Cure founder and NCI rare kidney cancer patient Andrew Lee, and Collins, who rolled up to the car show on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Photo: Ken Visser

Smiling youngster sits in the driver's seat of a luxury sportscar.

Amani, of Kenya, sits in his favorite car at the show—the Lamborghini Aventador. Two Lamborghinis were brought to the show by Alessandro Farmeschi, CEO of Lamborghini Americas.

Photo: Ken Visser

Lee and Jenna in front of Nissan GTR sportscar

Children’s Inn resident Jenna, 13, who is being treated at NINDS, enjoyed seeing Driven to Cure’s Nissan GTR at the show. She is posing with Driven to Cure’s Lee, father of cancer patient Andrew Lee, who benefited from participating in clinical trials before he died in late April at age 23.

Photo: Ken Visser

Kids smiling in rumble seat of Cadillac

Amani and his siblings enjoy the Cadillac’s rumble seat.

Photo: Ken Visser

The second annual Secret Little Car Show at the Children’s Inn at NIH once again united avid car fans and a mix of beautiful and rare vehicles with one goal in mind: to bring joy to seriously ill children and their families who stay at the inn. 

The lipstick-red 1935 Cadillac LaSalle convertible was a cheerful eye-catcher, driven to the inn by owners Randy and Susan Denchfield of Chevy Chase.

“The most enjoyment we get from our cars is sharing them with others, especially with children,” Randy said. “Showing and putting them in the rumble seat is the real joy. They are amazed at roll-up windows, running boards and suicide doors.”

The rare beauty is one of only nine registered in the Cadillac LaSalle National/International Directory.  

Lydia and Moses, parents of inn resident Amani, 13, and his siblings, Amana, 8, and Abel, 11, loved the impeccable condition, striking color and design of the Cadillac. But Amani, who recently underwent a bone marrow transplant for sickle cell disease at the Clinical Center, picked a different show favorite.

“The Lamborghini Aventador was his fave,” Lydia explains. 

Thanks to the generosity of Alessandro Farmeschi, chief executive officer of Lamborghini Americas, Amani didn’t just get to admire the two Lamborghinis Farmeschi brought, but also had the chance to sit in the Aventador, feel the steering wheel and push the pedals—experiences that made a deep impression.

“He loved seeing the latest cars and the powerful engines,” Lydia noted. “It was an exciting and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Children and families staying at the inn were also treated to a McLaren 650 S, a historic, black Lincoln Continental, a shiny, orange 2001 Lamborghini Diablo 6.0, a red Ferrari and others. 

Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder X-34, guarded by two live Storm Troopers and two armed Jawas, provided additional highlights. Darth Vader, also known as Eric Jacobs of the Theresa Sondra Jacobs Foundation, brought his Death Star Hummer H1, equipped with a custom-built laser smoke machine as well as Star Wars giveaways and toys for children staying at the inn. 

Driven to Cure’s customized, brilliant orange Nissan GTR also made an appearance, along with several cars provided by DTC supporters. 

Ken Visser, a contractor at NIA’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and a dedicated inn volunteer, organized the event for the second year in a row. 

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