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SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — Fans at the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 were thrilled while leaving the track, after watching the race come to an exciting close.

“It was really intense,” said Ted Gates, a fan that has attended the Indy 500 since 1982. “It was awesome when it gets down to the wire, and they let the guys race. it’s so fun.”

“First race in 1973 and I got hooked on the speed of them coming around,” said John Wojnowski, a fan that has attended the Indy 500 since 1973. “It was one of the best ones I’ve ever seen.”

The race ended with a tight finish, and a few crashes on the books.

“They red-flagged it so that everybody could finish on the checkered flag, and it was so cool,” Gates said. “There was this awesome pass at the end, right on turn four, and it was really neat to see.”

John Wojnowski says age will not stop him from attending, even if it’s a little harder to get inside.

“I need two new knees and a hip just to walk from the parking lot on 25th back there all the way up here to the race,” Wojnowski said. “It’s just too much ground to cover. I’ve gotta take breaks in between, but I’m there. I’m here.”

Both of these men said they have to travel a couple of hours to get to Speedway, but it is worth it for their favorite race.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Mayor Joe Hogsett announced an update to the city’s gun violence reduction strategy, most notably a package of gun laws that will be sent to the City-County Council.

If the council adopts these laws, they would go into effect immediately, but only if the Indiana laws preempting local governments from regulating firearms are overturned.

This package of laws would ban military-style weapons in Indianapolis, raise the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, and end permitless carry.

“Any discussion of gun safety efforts is inevitably politicized,” Hogsett said. “I have no doubt that the efforts announced today will draw the ire of the gun lobby, who use financial investment in candidates to stand in the way of common-sense gun safety measures.”

“None of us were really for going away from the permits to carry weapons. I still this that was a mistake,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “I am still hoping that can be reversed. I think we have an opportunity here to really sit down and look at this.”

Also announced were immediate changes for the city, including three criminal attorneys serving as special assistant United States attorneys to prosecute gun violence offenders federally.

“These federal charges will usually result in these bad actors being taken off our streets for pre-trial detention. It will result in stiffer penalties that require they serve a minimum of two-thirds of their sentence, and will have them serving those sentences in federal facilities far from Indianapolis,” Hogsett said.

The mayor also announced the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office has been instructed to penalize people maintaining nuisance properties where gun violence occurs. This is on top of providing support to groups wishing to make events in public places gun-free zones.

“Know that we will no longer tolerate you forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for your irresponsible business practices,” Hogsett said.

The mayor announced increased pay for new IMPD recruits and retention bonuses for existing officers.

The mayor also announced IMPD recruits will now be paid $72,000 in their first year and $75,000 in their second. Veteran officers will get a 3% retention bonus of up to $2,500.

Mayor Hogsett also announced $15 million dollars in elevation grants for neighborhood organizations to reduce violence.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is ready for any situation that could trigger a law enforcement response when the Indianapolis Motor Speedway fills up with hundreds of thousands of fans on race day.

“We have a high level of confidence because of our relationships with not only our federal, state, and local partners, but the good work that IMS is doing with their security precautions inside,” said Joshua Barker, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief of Operations.

Since the Indianapolis 500 is a yearly event, IMPD has plans from years past to look back on to help keep the event running smoothly this year.

“IMPD is just so ingrained in what that plan looks like over just decades of historical perspective on how to do that,” Barker said.

IMPD partners with other agencies to keep race fans safe.

“We’re constantly working with our intel-gathering partners with other jurisdictions at the state and local level,” Barker said. “We’re always looking at what types of large-scale incidents are happening at other venues to make sure that while I have a high level of confidence in the plans we have in place for the Indy 500 and the other events, is there something that I can learn from other jurisdictions?”

There will be police out in full force to help direct traffic and change traffic patterns on race day.

“You’re going to see several hundred IMPD officers in and around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That’s in addition to Speedway police, other state police partners, IMS personnel, fire, and EMS,” Barker said.

“There’s going to be a large public safety presence in and around the track.”

IMPD is monitoring for any public safety threats towards race weekend.

“There is no information leading up to this race that gives us any pause for concern that we’re going to have anything other than a great race weekend,” Barker said.

There will also be a strong police presence at the events leading up to race day to keep fans safe all weekend. There will still be the same amount of coverage in the rest of the city on race day because police will be working overtime.

IMPD encourages all fans to come with a plan, including the route to get in and out of Speedway and a designated driver, if alcohol is involved.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sextortion is described as a cybercrime of manipulating children or teenagers into sharing sexually explicit content and then using the initial images to blackmail the youths into sharing more.

Doug Kouns, a former FBI agent and the founder of Veracity IIR, said sextortion normally happens when adults posing as children or teens manipulates youths into sending explicit images.

“It’s usually fairly benign at first, but, once they have that, they keep using it to manipulate you into sending more and more,” Kouns said.

He said the best way to protect children is to prevent the cybercrime from happening, with open conversations at home.

“Opening the lines of communication is the biggest thing,” Kouns said. “Having some awkward conversations and letting them know the dangers that once you send something out there, it’s out there forever.”

The FBI, Indiana State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office want parents to be aware of these dangers. In a video to families, Superintendent Doug Carter of Indiana State Police said parents should be monitoring kids’ online presence.

“Please take a look at your kids’ phones. Who are they talking to? What social media applications do they have access to? Have you noticed any changes in their behavior? You have the power to root out these individuals,” Carter said.

Kouns said children and teens can be the ones to coerce other underage individuals into sending these images.

“If you’re sharing something with your boyfriend or girlfriend, they may share that with other people, especially if you break up,” Kouns said. “Those things tend to get out.”

Kouns notes sextortion is illegal, and those images can be considered to be child sexual abuse materials.

Experts advise not giving into sextortion demands for addition images or money. The experts said giving in will likely not stop the extortion, and could result in demands for more. Instead, call the police and preserve the evidence, including the content, the messages, the usernames and other pertinent information.

SPEEDWAY, Ind. (WISH) — Women are underrepresented in all areas of motorsports. The Della Penna Foundation is working to change that by exposing young girls to all facets of the sport.

It was founded by Michelle Della Penna, the daughter of IndyCar driver John Della Penna. She said for most of her life, she was one of few girls at the race track.

“Women make up half of the population and motorsports is an amazing sport that is a microcosm of the entire world,” Della Penna said. “Everything from engineering to mechanics to development to marketing to public relations to finance, there is all of that within motorsports and women are hugely underrepresented. Not to mention the actual driving component where, at the Indy 500, there is one woman on a grid of 30 people.”

Volunteers with the foundation took 15 high school girls from the Indianapolis area around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Indy 500 qualifying weekend. The girls got to meet with drivers and technicians to learn the ins and outs of racing, and watch the drivers qualify.

“The organization itself is really supportive of bringing more women into the fold. Drifting is a newer sport and unless you have a family history of motorsports, it’s hard to get into,” explained Zandara Kennedy, a member of the driver advisory council and a Formula Drift driver.

Kennedy said she wants to be the person that young girls can look up to since she did not have that growing up.

“I have zero family history in motorsports. My parents don’t care at all about vehicles, my brother is not into cars, so I am kind of the only one,” Kennedy said. “I fell into it through stunts actually. I wanted to become a better stunt driver, so I started taking better driving courses and I learned about drifting, and that became an addiction for me.”

Della Penna said the goal is to show girls they can be successful in any role in motorsports, despite many roles being traditionally held by men.

“We focus on the ages of 5 to 16, so really girls that are starting to develop what they like to do to girls getting ready to go off to college,” Della Penna said. “If you’re getting ready to start thinking about what you’re going to be doing for college and if you’re introduced to STEM and engineering programs. The younger you are, the better off you have of making a career out of it.”

“I really want to see more women in all aspects of motorsports. As a driver, I see only two other women, but in the pits, there aren’t a lot of techs either. I know there are many women out there with the capacity or the potential to be really good on a race team,” Kennedy said. “My best friend is an engineer and she came out and helped me, and I just want to encourage more women to see themselves in any position in motorsport.”

Della Penna is a first-generation Argentinian-American who is passionate about creating opportunities for women of color.

“This is a total labor of love for me. I absolutely love it,” Della Penna said. “Motorsports is near and dear to my heart. I’ve grown up in this sport, and I just want it to look more representative of the world that we live in.”

The foundation is based in California, but has many opportunities for Indianapolis girls because of the prominence of IndyCar in central Indiana.

The foundation is starting up a fellowship, allowing a high school girl in Indianapolis to get more direct access to motorsports. You can learn more about that opportunity and apply here.

PENDLETON, Ind. (WISH) — Kathy McCord worked for South Madison Community School Corp. at Pendleton Heights High School as a counselor for 25 years.

She says she was fired after she did not conform to the district’s Gender Support Plan and spoke about it publicly to a reporter.

Now, she’s suing the school district.

The plan instructed school staff to keep students’ requests to change their gender or pronouns at school private from parents if the students asked. McCord says she believes it is wrong for information about their child’s gender identity to be kept from parents.

“And I became very concerned about that, and I voiced my concerns to my administration but was told that I had to follow that plan,” McCord said.

In March, I-Team 8 reported McCord sent an email to other teachers asking them to not support the Gender Support Plan that took effect in August. Also, McCord spoke to a reporter about the plan last year.

“Ultimately I was approached by a reporter who parents had contacted about this policy, and he wanted to ask me questions about the policy, and I answered his questions truthfully and confirmed them,” McCord said.

Her lawsuit filed Thursday claims a free speech violation.

Alliance Defending Freedom is representing McCord. Vincent Wagner, one of her attorneys, said, “The core claim is public employees like Kathy can’t be fired for speaking out on what’s going on in the school, for things that matter in their community and they can’t be forced to give up their core beliefs to keep their job.”

Opponents of disclosing gender and pronoun change to parents when a child is uncomfortable say it could pose a safety risk to students. McCord believes parents should be involved in all major decisions regarding their children.

“You know as a Christian we know god gives us the children to take care of and as parents that’s what we’re supposed to do until they’re ready to do that themselves,” McCord said. “And I’ve experienced that a lot with parents at school and worked with those parents through some of these trials. And as a parent, I can’t imagine how upset I would be to find out my child is going through a difficult time like that and I was kept out of that.”

Multiple people spoke in support of McCord at school board meetings over the course of her suspension and firing. At least one person spoke in support of transgender people.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Indianapolis.

McCord says she wants to become an educator again.

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — The heart and history of motorsports live in Indiana, and a new series of sculptures going up in Carmel is paying homage to that.

Four sculptures will appear on 96th Street, all depicting classic cars developed in Indiana. The first to be installed is on Priority Way. It is an artistic rendering of the first winner of the Indy 500, the Marmon Wasp.

Arlon Bayliss designed the four art pieces. The Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg sculpture will be on Delegates Way; the Stutz installation on Gray Road; and the Studebaker sculpture on Hazel Dell Parkway.

“One of the most exciting things about the project is there’s a lot of ingenuity and invention and creative spirit which I think still exists in Indiana,” Bayliss said. “But it was really fun to see that in the early 1900s and to see what an incredible contribution these cars made to the world of automobiles.”

Bayliss is an English-born artist. He has created public art for over 30 years, and says it was important to memorialize the history of automotive design in Indiana with this set of art, as at one point, there were over 100 different car makers in Indiana.

When considering the history, he told News 8, “I had to think about the potential for that, and what I realized was there were a lot of inventions that were safety-related or engineering related that came about. For example, front-wheel drive was invented by Indiana car makers, and this car here, the Marmon Wasp, was the first car to use a rearview mirror.”

Robert Buchanan owns ‘bo-mar Industries,’ the fabricator for this project. As a lifelong Indiana resident and car enthusiast, he jumped at this opportunity.

“Exciting doesn’t even begin to cover it. It was just thrilling,” Buchanan said. “This car is the most iconic car in the history of racing. We couldn’t afford to make this less than what it really was as a real car.”

Each sculpture takes hundreds of hours to design and engineer and then two to three additional months to fabricate. “We bought large sheets of aluminum that were one inch thick and we have water jets and laser machines so we cut the product out on those two pieces of equipment,” Buchanan said.

Bayliss said he incorporates something for viewers to discover in every piece, this time he honored the first Indy 500 winner.

“I like to do an easter egg,” Bayliss said. “Something people can discover closely if they look at the artwork and in this case, we put the face of Ray Harroun into the mirror.”

The base of the Marmon sculpture incorporates even more 500 history, it has authentic bricks from the track that were made in 1901.

The next sculpture should be installed by the end of the summer with the final two completed by the end of the year.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Kids at Riley Hospital for Children got a chance to experience the magic of the Indy 500 when drivers came to greet the patients and their families.

Eight drivers came to support the kids and their families as they navigate difficult pediatric health concerns.

“This has been a dream come true because I am a huge Indy 500 fan,” said 19-year-old Caleb Abbott.

Abbott has been to the Indy 500 six times in his 19 years. Being in the hospital means that might not be possible this year, so this event was even more special for him.

“It’s amazing. It’s one of the best experiences you’ll ever have,” Abbott said. “Whenever we go we sit at the finish line. You see it all there.”

The drivers signed autographs, played with the kids, and joined in the family’s support system for the day.

“I got some of their signatures and I am just waiting on one more,” said 9-year-old Ena Stewert. “I was feeling happy because I was wanting to do this ever since I started liking cars.”

“I used to really struggle with it because I’ve been so grateful in my life. I’ve been really healthy,” said Simon Pagenaud, a French IndyCar driver.

“I’ve never really had any issues so when you have that much luck in life it’s tough to see that others don’t have that kind of luck. But as a parent now I see it differently, I see it as giving support and being there for them,” Pagenaud added.

The 500 Festival Princesses were also at the party and were there to play with the kids and provide support for the families.

This is the first time the event was held since 2019 due to the pandemic.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Another mother is coming forward with allegations of neglect after she alleges her son escaped from Caregiver Inc. supervision while he attended the day program.

Maria Badger sent her son Rayshamond Holman to Caregiver Inc. day program. Caregiver Inc. is a Texas-based company with locations in Indiana.

Badger says her son has autism and has escaped under their supervision multiple times. “I wanted to cry, but I held the tears back because this hurts,” Badger said.

Every time Rayshamond, known by his loved ones as Ray, has run away, he has been found safe, but his mother Maria Badger says she knows they might not always be this lucky.

“He doesn’t know where he is going,” Badger said. “Hope nobody hits him or snatches him up and does stuff to him and kills him, and throws him in a field somewhere. I think about that and I am just nervous about that.”

Badger originally reached out to News 8 after seeing the story about Dionna Scott, a 42-year-old intellectually disabled adult who ran away from a Caregiver Inc. home and was later killed by a car.

“I feel sorry for her family because that could have happened to my son, especially when he was on the highway,” Badger said. “It could have happened anywhere. I feel sorry for the family and I will pray for the family.”

Badger pulled her son from the day program in July 2022 when staff allegedly dropped him off, and the wrong house and he ran away. She said if someone waited to see if he could not get in the house, this would have been prevented. Badger said on one occasion, he was found near a highway.

“He had eloped from them a few times before and it took them between 10 to 15 minutes to call me to tell me that he had eloped,” Badger said. “So I get the call from IMPD and they say, ‘We found your son.’ And I am like, ‘Thank you, Jesus, where?’ When they told me out west on the highway, I was like how did he get all the way out there?”

Badger said her son went to this day program prior to Caregiver buying it out. She said many have pulled their loved ones due to safety concerns and alleges a director at the company is to be blamed.

“She mistreats special needs kids and the workers,” Badger said. “She comes to work high, she smokes weed, and I don’t think she needs to be there.”

Badger said she has been in contact with someone at the state, but it is not immediately clear if anything came from that. She hopes the company will be investigated.

Caregiver Inc. has not responded to multiple requests for comment over the course of these stories airing.

This story has been updated to give the correct name of Caregiver Inc.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There is a small but mighty group of fans across the pond that support the Indianapolis Colts through it all: Wins, losses, and even a five or six-hour time difference when it comes to watching games live.

Lucas Lejeune has been a Colts super fan ever since he studied abroad in Indiana in 2019. He said getting to see the Colts play in Frankfurt, Germany as someone from Roermond, Netherlands would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I saw they were going to Germany and I was absolutely losing it,” Lejeune said. “It’s crazy that they are going to be playing a game three hours away from me. Very surreal and I look forward to hopefully seeing them in Frankfurt this November.”

Joseph Spry lives in Coventry, England. He became a Colts fan as a result of cheering for the Pacers 10 years ago. His dedication to the team has been unwavering ever since.

“Having the opportunity to go over there and also watch the Colts since I’ve never actually managed to watch them in person before, I was really excited,” Spry said.

Andy Waugh lives in Dublin, Ireland. he became a Colts fan after his uncle immigrated to Indianapolis more than 40 years ago.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Waugh said. “You’re waking up first thing in the morning and you’re realizing the Colts are basically coming as close to your doorstep as you can get.”

These fans said after putting in the effort to watch the games live in the middle of the night, they hope they can get tickets.

“We are probably one of the smallest fan bases out of all the NFL, hence you can see that the passion is really there,” Waugh said. “And we really want to travel to Frankfurt together and make this work.”

“I think that the Colts should do something about European fans and our dedication. Hopefully, they can help us and we can get tickets at a normal time and in the stadium,” Lejeune said.

Waugh already has his plane tickets and hotel booked and LeJeune plans to book his soon. Spry said being a university student will make it harder to make this dream a reality.

“Over the summer and in the near future, I am going to be working very hard to make as much money as I can and hopefully book everything in one go,” Spry said. “I would do literally anything to go over. As Andy said, we are a core fan base and we put in long nights to watch the Colts.”

Fans can register to purchase international tickets with the NFL here.

After preregistering for tickets, fans interested in international games will still have to try to secure their seats on Ticketmaster.