On the track, NASCAR is built on the heart-stopping excitement of speed; but off it, this successful organization has learned the real meaning of heart – by giving back to those in need. One such example is the work of the NASCAR Foundation, which was founded in Jan. 2006 and has grown into one of the fastest-growing charities supported by any sport in America.
The Foundation, a non-profit entity, aims to recognize, highlight, support and reward the compassion of the NASCAR family and its commitment to serving communities. While raising funds to support non-profit charities and charitable causes throughout the nation, it increases volunteerism while placing an emphasis on initiatives that affect the ability of children to live, learn and play.
This year, the sport’s opening up its heart in a different way by trying to involve the group responsible for their very existence: NASCAR fans. A special new award has been created – the first annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award – which will recognize the outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of NASCAR fans, including a $100,000 donation from The NASCAR Foundation to the children’s charity of the recipient’s choice.
The award honors the passionate commitment of Betty Jane France – the wife of the late NASCAR head Bill France Junior – who’s become a champion in her own right when it comes to helping communities. France has been a pioneer of charitable works within the sport, serving as Chairwoman and founder of The NASCAR Foundation.
France also created the Speediatrics concept, a pediatric unit with a racing theme at both the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. It’s a perfect pairing with the Betty Jane France Children’s Emergency Center at Homestead Hospital, implemented further south outside of Miami designed so that kids can get the top quality medical care they need.
“The NASCAR Foundation is proud to honor Betty Jane France with this humanitarian award that recognizes the outstanding community service efforts of NASCAR fans across the country,” explains Sandy Marshall, executive director of the NASCAR Foundation who knows the difference helping one child can make – regardless of who does it. “We hear so many great stories of the difference NASCAR fans are making in their communities and are excited to give back in support of their favorite children’s causes.”
At the moment, the awards committee is rifling through nominees with the finalists scheduled to be announced in early October. The three criteria that will determine the winner, which is chosen by The NASCAR Foundation Board of Directors, include the long-term commitment to children’s causes, impact on the local community and dedication for their efforts and passion for the sport of NASCAR.
What type of people exemplify this award? Here’s a snapshot within the long list of nominees, a trio of individuals who push down the accelerator pedal when it comes to helping those in need.
Patty Aber: Belfast, N.J.
Patty is the leader of the Pocono/Dover fan ambassador committee and has been a volunteer for The NASCAR Foundation for more than five years. Instrumental in the success of many Foundation efforts, such as NASCAR Day Pin fundraising and service projects, Patty has also played host to their fundraising events including dances, dinners, silent auctions as well as a charity walk. On average, she devotes 30 hours per week to supporting local community service projects but don’t expect her to tire out. A strong Christian faith remains her guiding light, leading to a life of service and she’s honored to do it.
Gerry Clauss: Hainesport, N.J.
Gerry is a member of the Pocono/Dover fan ambassador committee, also volunteering with The NASCAR Foundation since 2006. A family man, he’s involved his son and daughter in various foundation projects; both have received recognition from their schools for outstanding volunteer service. Gerry is a very passionate NASCAR fan who is able to engage large groups of supporters towards The NASCAR Foundation’s many activities.
Angela Boggs: Jacksonville, Fla.
Angela is the leader of the Daytona Beach fan ambassador committee and displays real passion for the causes supported by The NASCAR Foundation. Angela has a great volunteer base, including members of her own family, that come out for events in Daytona including this weekend’s 400-miler. In addition to her at-track volunteer hours, Angela recently conducted a supply drive to support tornado victims in Alabama and has volunteered at Speediatrics at Halifax Health.
Each finalist that gets chosen will receive a $25,000 donation to a children’s charity of their choice, a trip to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 2011 and be part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, where the winner will be announced and presented an award from Betty Jane France herself. The winner receives the $100,000 donation from The NASCAR Foundation to their children’s charity and a 2012 Ford Explorer.
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Tony Lumbis has headed the Marketing Department for Frontstretch since 2008. Responsible for managing our advertising portfolio, he deals with our clients directly, closing deals while helping promote the site’s continued growth both inside and outside the racing community through social media and traditional outlets. Tony is based outside Philadelphia.
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