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The teachers and Gillaspie met with Mario Andretti and then attended the prerace drivers’ meeting, getting a rousing round of applause when introduced. They were each presented with checkered flags signed by all 24 drivers in the field, including Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan, who they visited with on the starting grid.

In conjunction with their appearances at the IndyCar race, the three were treated to a stay in a luxury hotel, giving all of them a brief reprieve from all they have dealt with in recent weeks.

“I was glad to have a hot shower,” Canaday said. “This is great. Everyone has been so wonderful. The invitation down here to just let us get away from things for a day or so, I just can’t thank them enough.”