Race Weekend Central

2023 Comcast Community Champion Finalists Announced

Comcast announced Oct. 26 that Jessica Friesen, Max Siegel and Ryan Vargas are the finalists for the 2023 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award. 

For the ninth straight year, Comcast is rewarding NASCAR industry members for their philanthropic work. The eventual champion, who is awarded $60,000 to their charity of choice with the other two finalists receiving $30,000 apiece, will be selected by a panel of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as Jes Fereira, senior digital of live shows for CSM Production, who won the award last year. 

“What I love about this award over the years is the difference in involvement over the sport of our finalists,” Matt Lederer, Comcast’s vp of brand partnerships and amplifications, said. “It’s been all over the place in who in the sport we’re storytelling about. Being able to show what a [NASCAR] Cup [Series] driver can do, all the way to the wife of a racer and what she’s doing. I think these three finalists embody that. 

“We’ve got a driver, we’ve got somebody who is the spouse of a driver, but she’s taking what she can do and what her role is and taking it to the forefront of the community. Somebody like Max, who is such an amazing human being, an entrepreneur and business leader. I look at those three and think, ‘This is what this award is about.’ It doesn’t matter who you are in this industry, they all are not just moving the sport forward, but moving the industry forward in the unique ways that they can.”

Lederer believes that, like all past finalists, Friesen, Siegel and Vargas are doing the work because it’s personal to them and they are passionate about spreading the word. 

Friesen, who has made a pair of Craftsman Truck Series starts at Knoxville Speedway, was inspired by her son Parker, who was diagnosed with autism, and channeled her energy into fundraising to make a difference. Among her most impactful contributions has been organizing the annual Autism Awareness Day at Fonda Speedway in New York, and she’s raised north of $70,000 during its first year for the Crossroads Center For Children. 

Siegel is the owner of Rev Racing, which provides opportunities to minority and female competitors, and he wants everyone to succeed. The goal of his Max Siegel Inc. Youth Foundation is to provide at-risk youth with hope, empowerment and show them that they can grow into healthy, productive adults with careers in exciting fields. 

Finally, there is Vargas, who was born with Craniosynostosis, a birth defect diagnosed in one in every 2,000 to 3,000 in which the bones in a baby’s skull join together, causing problems with normal growth. His diagnosis was caught early and repaired with one surgery. Vargas continues supporting those who face the same struggle with the birth defect by becoming involved in FACES: The National Craniofacial Association. FACES is an organization designed to provide resources with the same defect, such as financial assistance for medical travel, as well as a support network for teens and children through FACES camp. 

The winner will be announced during Champion’s Week in Nashville next month. With a total of $120,000 being donated to the three charities, Comcast will surpass the $1 million milestone in financial contributions through the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award over the past nine years. 

“When we go to Nashville, the winner is the last moment of the night, but the whole night is about storytelling about what everybody is doing,” Lederer added. “I think people appreciate that, see the value in that. This is one of, if not, the proudest things we do in this sponsorship from my perspective. I love that night and I love this sport.

“We’re proud to be with a sport that wants to do this and also a company that is willing to support those that are doing these great things in the community.”

About the author

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Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

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