No medical degree was required to evaluate 11-year-old Cory’s excitement when he saw the bright yellow, 2020 McLaren 720S parked in front of Children’s Medical Center Dallas. His jaw dropped open and he shot his mom a quick look that implored, “Is this for real?!?”
“We’ve worked with Park Place for many years,” explained Audra Cozart, Corporate Partnership Gift Officer for Children’s Medical Center Foundation. “When Park Place approached us with this opportunity, we talked to our Child Life Specialists, who get to know our patients very well and knew Cory has a love for cars.”
Everyone was careful not to promise a ride until it was confirmed Cory’s oxygen apparatus, which is about the size of a carry-on bag on wheels, would fit inside the passenger cabin of the two-seater performance car.
“Cory was born with a congenital heart defect,” explained Cory’s mother Penny. “Over the years, he’s had many procedures, but he’s outgrown all the repairs that have been made. Last August, Cory was admitted to Children’s Health with heart failure. There’s no further surgery or anything else that can be done for him. We’re just taking it one day at a time and trying to have as much quality time with Cory as possible.”
McLaren Dallas General Manager Heath Strayhan volunteered to be Cory’s driver. As Cory settled into the passenger seat, Strayhan gave him an insider’s tour of the supercar’s controls and features. Cory’s reaction of his thrilling ride in the McLaren 720S is priceless.
“It’s like launching a rocket.” he said, pointing to the “START” button. Then, explaining the “C-S-T” selector knob, “C, for Comfort, where the suspension and handling is smooth and easy… S, Sport, tightens everything up to better grip the road… and T, Track, means hold on!”
After securing Cory’s oxygen container in the passenger’s floorboard, Strayhan told him to buckle up. Cory shot a quick glance at his mom that screamed, “STAT!” and flashed her the biggest smile.
Strayhan eased out of the parking lot with a distinctive McLaren growl. “When you’re driving fast, you want the car to be as predictable as possible,” he calmly told Cory, while turning tightly into sharp turns. “Smell that?” He asked, referencing the high-octane fuel coursing thru the engine. “That’s a beautiful smell. Feel that shift? BANG! Hear that rumble?”
While experiencing all the nuances of the 700-horsepower 720S’ performance, Cory could only respond with long, soft mutterings of “Yeah!” and “Wow!” and, “How do you turn the volume up?” After about a half hour, Cory asked, “How fast will it go?”
“212 miles per hour,” answered Strayhan, who has spent countless hours driving McLarens on the track. “But I’ve never gone that fast.”
“I bet it’d be fun,” Cory replied with sheer wonderment.
Over the past 30 years, Park Place has helped raise millions of dollars in contributions through grants, in-kind donations, event sponsorships, and unique experiences, working with more than 300 community organizations across DFW. Last year the luxury automotive group introduced Park Place Cares to represent their philanthropic efforts in the arts, medical research, children's advocacy, and education.
“Today, Cory got a special ride in a McLaren 720S,” said Anam Ali Hashambhai, Experiential Marketing Manager for Park Place Dealerships. “He got to experience the roar of the engine and the exhilaration of acceleration. For a little while, he got to just be a kid who loves cars, and not think about the challenges he faces every day.”
After the ride, Strayhan popped the McLaren’s bonnet to reveal gifts for Cory: Dallas Stars tickets, a McLaren ballcap, several LEGO sets (including a McLaren Senna,) as well as a scale model of a McLaren P1 Supercar.
“Park Place and Children’s Health have a long-standing relationship that makes opportunities like this possible,” concluded Strayhan. “McLaren Dallas and McLaren North America partnered to make this a one in a million experience. And I’m sure everyone involved got as much or more out of it as Cory.”
Founded in 1987 with a single Mercedes-Benz dealership on Oak Lawn, Park Place operates 17 full-service dealerships representing luxury brands Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, McLaren, and Maserati. For more info, visit parkplace.com.
Children’s Health is the eighth-largest pediatric health care provider in the nation and the leading pediatric care system in North Texas, providing a full spectrum of health care services – from daily wellness and primary care to specialty visits and critical care. Holding eight disease-specific care certifications from The Joint Commission, Children’s Health has been consistently named of the nation’s top pediatric providers by U.S. News & World Report. The Children’s Health system includes Children’s Medical Center Dallas, as well as Children’s Medical Center Plano. Our Children’s House inpatient rehabilitation hospital, multiple specialty centers, rehabilitation facilities, physician services and the Children’s Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern. For more information about Children’s Health, visit www.childrens.com.