Richmond, VA – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver of the #11 FedEx car, Denny Hamlin, named Zackery and Christian Koroskenyi, ages 6 1/2 and 5, from Fort Mill, South Carolina as Grand Marshals of the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown Presented by FedEx on April 25, 2013 at Richmond International Raceway.
“I love these two little boys,” Hamlin said. “I have watched them grow up over the last few years, and they are amazing. Having them start the race is an honor.”
Zackery and Christian were diagnosed as infants with cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic, life-threatening disease that coats the lungs with thick, sticky mucus. It also attacks the digestive tract and other areas of the body. There is no cure.
When Jillian Koroskenyi, the boys’ mother, told Zackery, an avid Hamlin fan, about the invitation, “He squealed with laughter,” she recalled. He proudly practiced the race command, “Drivers, start your engines,” and then said loudly, “with Denny?”
Hamlin recently surprised Zackery with a visit when he woke up from surgery. “We talked, raced each other on Wii and took lots and lots of pictures,” Zackery said.
Zackery’s little brother, Christian, is excited to participate, as well. “I get to see Kyle Busch,” he asked with a big smile on his face. Both boys are avid NASCAR fans. They love race cars. “It truly will put a smile on both boys’ faces,” Jillian said. “It is like a dream come true for them.”
Two of Jillian and Michael Koroskenyi’s three children have cystic fibrosis. Alaina, who is 21 months old, does not have the disease.”It [cystic fibrosis]is a daily battle,” Jillian said. The boys take several medications each day to help with digestion and to assist with keeping their air ways clear. They also require daily breathing treatments and 30-45 minute chest physical therapy twice a day when healthy and four times when sick.
Each of the boys has had at least ten surgeries and more than a dozen hospital admissions. They are on continuous tube feeds overnight to help them gain the necessary weight to keep them healthy, and each is in the hospital at least twice a year to receive IV antibiotics for infections that oral medication cannot treat.
”To not think about CF for a day and do what they love and talk about all the time will bring tears to my eyes,” Jillian said.
In 2012, the Denny Hamlin Foundation committed to a 3-year grant totaling $150,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Funds from the grant, which are raised through events like this year’s Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown Presented by FedEx at Richmond International Raceway, will help accelerate the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab’s ability to bring new therapies to cystic fibrosis patients. In addition, the newly established Denny Hamlin Foundation Summer Scholars program will help train the next generation of CF research scientists.
All tickets for the Thursday, April 25, Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown presented by FedEx are $25 and can be purchased online by clicking here or calling 866-455-7223. Children 12 and younger are admitted free with a ticketed adult. Thursday’s ticket includes a seat for the BLUE OX 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race, which precedes the Showdown.
About the Denny Hamlin Foundation
The Denny Hamlin Foundation was created in 2008 to aid in raising awareness and funding for Cystic Fibrosis research and treatment, as well as to support other not for profit corporations that focus on aiding children with debilitating illnesses.