Oncology nurse Justin Baney is off to the races in raising money for Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center‘s soon-to-be-opened cancer center.
Baney, who has worked for the West Islip hospital for nearly two years, is fundraising the money through his other passion: off-road truck racing.
The Islip Terrace resident began racing professionally nearly two years, where he has competed in courses across the U.S.
Next, he is set to race in the Ultra4 Racing Series‘ largest event of the year called “King of the Hammers,” which draws nearly 100,000 spectators.
For the race, which takes place in Johnson Valley, Calif. on Feb. 1, he is calling on sponsors to donate $1 for every mile he completes. The goal is to raise $5,000. All proceeds will go toward funding Good Sam’s two-story cancer center, which plans to open later this year.
“One thing I fell in love with is how nice the staff is here,” Baney told GreaterBayShore. “As I was building the truck, I always had in mind that I wanted to give back to this institution.”
But this is no walk in the park for Baney, who has three professional races under his belt.
“It is the world’s difficult race,” the 41-year-old explained. “Last year, 142 cars left the line, only 12 people finished.”
The King of the Hammers incorporates racing with rock crawling through a grueling course.
“The race has a mixture of desert, rock canyons, trees, and mud,” said Baney. “And each year they make it harder.”
To support their racer, Good Samaritan officials held a ceremony for Baney on Thursday, where they blessed his truck and wished him luck.
“We are so grateful at Good Samaritan to have the incredible support of the community, but this is very special,” said the hospital’s executive director of development, Kelly Scherer. “He is so passionate about the care that he provides to our patients.
“We couldn’t be more proud to you and more thankful.”
During the celebration, some of Baney’s patients were in attendance. They never knew this side of their nurse.
“I had no idea he competed,” said Jo-Ann Rivera, who has been a patient for over a year. “You don’t expect them to be doing stuff like this on the outside.”
But, she says, if he is as good as a nurse as he is a driver, he doesn’t have anything to worry about.
“He makes the days bright for his patients during a dark time,” said Rivera, of Islip. “Very caring, always willing to help others.”
Scroll down to see photos from the celebration.
Top: Good Samaritan nurse Justin Baney with the Jeep he will be racing in his upcoming event. (Credit: Nicholas Esposito)