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Darlington, NASCAR team up to build playset for Effingham cancer patient
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Darlington, NASCAR team up to build playset for Effingham cancer patient

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EFFINGHAM, S.C. — Eevie Richardson turned shy Thursday afternoon when she, her father and her grandmother returned from a morning out to find a crew from NASCAR had built her a new playset in the back yard.

Father Dustin Richardson carried Eevie, with a mask over her eyes, to the build site and handled the reveal.

EFFINGHAM, S.C. — Eevie Richardson turned shy Thursday afternoon when she, her father and her grandmother returned from a morning out to find a crew from NASCAR had built her a new playset in the back yard.

Dustin Richardson said Eevie, who is battling leukemia, would take to the new playset like a duck to water once everyone left and quiet returned.

“I tell you what, this would have to take it right here,” Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp said of a choice between building a playset for a sick child or Victory Lane. “Let’s hope that’s what she gets to is Victory Lane. Sounds like she has a great support system and the power of prayer does miraculous things.”

“Just being able to come out here and play a small part in making her life, her family’s life a little better means everything to us,” Tharp said of the crew from NASCAR and Pull’R Holding Company that gathered for the build.

More than a dozen people from across NASCAR — near and far — descended on the Richardson residence in Effingham at 8:30 a.m. Thursday to make life a bit better for Eevie as she goes through cancer treatment.

Parts were strewn out in the side yard — organized by letter — while tools, nuts, bolts and other such were placed on a table where the builders could get ahold of them.

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All to make life better for Eevie Richardson.

“She’s doing really well,” Dustin Richardson said. “She was diagnosed last year in April of 2020. We got a phone call from her doctor and it was pretty devastating, he didn’t sugar coat it and he told us it was bad.”

Since that phone call he and Eevie have been traveling to Columbia on a regular basis for chemo. Now they are traveling less often and Eevie is on a pill at home.

She is gaining weight and regrowing hair, Dustin Richardson said.

Thursday morning Eevie sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck with her grandmother, Mechell Richardson, while NASCAR hooked her father up with tickets for this weekend’s race and prepared them for a morning out — out for the family and out of the way for the build crew.

As the family backed out of their driveway the build teams were already inserting tabs into slots, screwing steps onto ladders and realizing that they didn’t have the tools they needed.

But that was OK. There was a hardware store just up Pamplico Highway and NASCAR Foundation’s Nichole Krieger said the trip, or trips, to get tools and equipment was just part of the experience.

“Little Eevie has leukemia and we’re here today to build a playset in her backyard so she can play, have fun and take her mind off things,” Krieger said before she rolled out on the supply run. “We’re celebrating our 15th anniversary this year. With COVID we tried to something a little bit different in how we can give back. We’re building 15 of these play sets for 15 children who are facing pediatric oncology cancer diagnosis.”

“My whole marketing department is here with me today,” said Brian Ranallo with Pull’R Holding Company. “When this opportunity came up I wanted to jump on it right away. It goes so much further than just putting some signs up at the track and having official status. Affecting some lives and touching some hearts is what we’re here to do.”

“It’s a great way to usher in the weekend, with this here today and we have the Terrance Carraway Memorial 5K — two great initiatives we’re able to do on Thursday and we’ll have plenty of racing this weekend,” Tharp said. “These are very important initiatives we’re involved in that mean everything to the track.”

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