The organization supports a wide range of charities that "reflect the core values of the entire NASCAR family." While it is involved in numerous events, from blood drives to building children's playgrounds to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the organization is perhaps best known for its annual, "NASCAR Day." Since 2006, annual contributions and fan donations have allowed the foundation to award more than $13 million in charitable support to hundreds of charities, provide 24,000 children each year with medical treatment at Speediatrics, give 1,100 children the Victory Junction camping experience and fulfill 600 NASCAR Dreams. The ninth celebration of NASCAR Day, on May 18, 2012, encouraged fans to join the NASCAR Foundation’s initiative in the “Pin It Forward” campaign.
Charity begins at home
Unquestionably, NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers have some of the most hectic schedules in the sport. Just look at what they accomplish week to week. Not only do they bounce all over the country for primarily three-day race weekends, they also watch obligations shave away their remaining free moments. They make appearances. They film commercials. They meet with their teams. They race around from event to event, working in time with family or to relax. And then, when they have a moment to breathe, many think of others. Drivers across the sport have created foundations or projects aimed at giving back to one or more charities. They work with children, animals and camps. They raise funds for hospital wings, chronically ill children and injured drivers in lower series. They visit and chat and race in the name of the charity of their choice.
Kasey Kahne donates to a school
Kasey Kahne agrees. He's hosted racing events to benefit his foundation, inviting other drivers to participate. In most cases, when one driver holds an event, others show up to support it or to race in it. Kahne says that he enjoys hosting the events. "Hopefully we can keep supporting that and raising money and putting smiles on kids faces," he said of one of his events. Some drivers support causes close to them, either through knowing or being in close contact with someone directly affected by it. Others are moved by personal encounters in their own lives. All share a common goal, though, of reaching out and helping others in any way they can — even in a sport where schedules are tight. In NASCAR, not only do the drivers talk about giving back to the fans — they back up their words through the support they show to a variety of causes and charities. Based on foundation sites, Rea White takes a look at some driver causes:
Kevin Harvick, others give back
In an era when volunteerism is being touted nationally, NASCAR drivers are leading the way for a variety of causes. Championing those less fortunate than themselves has become a growing force among drivers and the sanctioning body itself, which embraces those foundations and its own initiatives through the NASCAR Foundation. Virtually every Cup driver has been involved in some type of charity activity, either through the NASCAR Foundation or his own efforts.
Jeff Burton gives his support
In addition to the drivers who do work through their foundations are a series of other efforts and endeavors. Jeff Burton has a longtime involvement with Duke Children's Hospital. Clint Bowyer has been actively involved in projects in his hometown of Emporia, Kan. Carl Edwards participated in the attempt to drive a Ford Hybrid 1,000 miles to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Scott Speed served as a spokesperson for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. Regan Smith supported the Carolina Hurricanes Kids ‘N Community Foundation, which provides funding to children's charities in North Carolina.
Greg Biffle Foundation
Founded in 2005 by Biffle and his wife, Nicole, the organization focuses on advocating for the well-being of animals. The Foundation offers grants for animal shelters and humane societies and raises funds through the sale of an annual Pet Calendar featuring NASCAR personalities and their pets. Biffle is pictued with a custom-built motorcycle his foundation auctioned in 2006.
Kurt Busch Foundation
The organization's mission is to aid groups involved in health care, education, career training and rehabilitation. Busch (pictured participating in the annual Jail & Bail NASCAR Foundation event) has been actively involved in the Victory Junction Gang Camp, which is home to the Kurt Busch Superdome, an indoor sports facility. He also hosts an annual "Sprint for the Kids" in Las Vegas. His foundation has expanded to cover organizations involved in health care, education, career training and rehabilitation and other areas.
Kyle Busch Foundation
The foundation primarily supports children's homes throughout the country. It has worked to renovate some facilities and hosted events as fundraisers as well as bringing children to tracks.
The Dale Jr. Foundation
Earnhardt Jr. is actively involved in Make-A-Wish and the Victory Junction Gang Camp through the foundation. Fundraising events are held annually to help benefit these and other causes the group supports.
Jeff Gordon Foundation
Aimed at helping children, the foundation has raised more than $7 million in financial support for various charities, according to its web site. Gordon has gone a step further, too, supporting the Jeff Gordon Children's Hospital in Concord, N.C., Make-A-Wish and working with marrow donor recruitment. He has raised money through various events, including a go-kart contest. Gordon recently drove with a special paint scheme featuring his Foundation.
Denny Hamlin Foundation
The organization focuses primarily on raising awareness and funding for the specific needs of individuals afflicted with cystic fibrosis. He has hosted fundraising races and gone an extra step for fans, giving away tickets to races.
Kevin Harvick gives back to the sport and its fans in a myriad of ways, including developing a scholarship program in his home state of California. Through the Kevin Harvick Foundation, he will fund a full academic scholarship to one California State University, Bakersfield student-athlete per year for the next 12 years. Harvick made the initial $151,200 award presentation in 2010. The scholarship was established as a way for Harvick to give back to his hometown community, Kern County, and support higher education. “By providing this scholarship fund, DeLana and I will enable students to follow their dreams to get an undergraduate degree and participate in athletics at the collegiate level,” Harvick said. In 2010, Harvick worked with "Kevin's Krew," an outreach program in partnership with his sponsor that exposed students to the racing industry.
Sam Hornish Jr. Foundation
Hornish's foundation lists a sweeping array of beneficiaries, including a senior center in his home town of Defiance, Ohio, in memory of his grandmother. He has also been involved with Special Olympics, St. Jude's Hospital for Children and a host of other projects.
Jimmie Johnson Foundation
Since its inception in 2006, the group has donated more than $3 million to various organizations, according to its web site. Some of its key projects include helping schools through the Lowe's Toolbox for Educations and the Victory Junction Gang Camp for chronically ill children, which now includes the Jimmie Johnson's Victory Lanes bowling alley. Johnson and his sponsor, Lowe's, annually donate to schools through the foundation.
Kasey Kahne Foundation
Created in 2005, the organization's focus is on chronically ill children and their families and disadvantaged youth. Kahne hosts annual racing events as part of the foundation's fundraising efforts.
Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation was founded in 2010 and works to support military members, veterans, first-responders and their families, among others. The foundation has participated in programs with the Wounded Warrior Project, the Armed Forces Foundation, The Paralyzed Veterans of America, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Detroit F.I.R.E. benefit team and the federal Veterans Administration.
Bobby Labonte Foundation
Founded in 2003, Labonte's organization focuses on charitable groups that aid children. It supports Victory Junction Gang Camp as well as the North Carolina Quarter Midget Association, among other causes. Labonte also helps out with other drivers' charity efforts, such as playing in a Jimmie Johnson Foundation charity golf tournament.
Formula Smiles Foundation
Formed by Juan Pablo Montoya and his wife, Connie, the organization works to use sports to improve the quality of life of children in Montoya's native Colombia in "vulnerable situations." The organization has hosted a series of golf tournaments as well as a Gala in Miami, among other projects, to support its cause. Montoya is seen here answering phones during a NASCAR Day Telethon.
Jamie McMurray Foundation
The organization is involved in fundraising for the research, education and support of individuals and families impacted by autism. McMurray has hosted golf tournaments as part of its effort.
Ryan Newman Foundation
Founded by Ryan and his wife, Krissie, the multi-faceted foundation participates in programs including spaying/neutering pets, conservation projects and scholarship funding through the Rich Vogler Scholarship program. The Newmans have funded a North Carolina spay/neuter clinic as well as been active partners in pet adoption programs. They help support the organization through a pair of "Pit Road Pets" books featuring NASCAR personalities and their pets that are available through the Web site.
David Reutimann Foundation
Reutimann's organization has a broad mission plan of aiding children, families and individuals through donations to organizations. Each year Reutimann hosts a cookout, auction and golf tournament in his home town of Zephyrhills, Fla., to benefit various charities.
The Hermie and Elliott Sadler Foundation
Elliott (pictured) and brother Hermie work through their foundation to raise awareness of autism while promoting research for a cure and working with the families of autistic children. Bowling events and an annual party with fans and country music singers are the group's premier events.
Tony Stewart Foundation
The Foundation aims to raise and donate funds to help care for both critically ill children – Stewart is a co-founder of the Victory Junction Gang Camp – and drivers who are injured in racing, as well as other causes. Stewart has committed millions to the camp and other endeavors and the funds raised through his annual Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway help programs he supports.
Martin Truex Jr. Foundation
Aimed at reaching out to children, Truex has created the Teddy Bear Campaign, pajama drives and is actively involved in a children's advocacy center in North Carolina. Truex hosts an annual poker tournament as well as other fundraising campaigns.