Drivers get charitable with foundations

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.

They 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.

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.

Kevin Harvick now works with “Kevin’s Krew,” an outreach
program in partnership with sponsor Shell Oil Co. that exposes
students to the racing industry.

“Kevin’s Krew is basically a group of challenged or
underprivileged kids that come to the race track that the local
police department started near Fontana (California) and they
basically bring anywhere from 20 to 80 kids to the track and let
them get away from their environment and put them in an environment
that impresses them enough to go out and do things that are fun and
to be in an environment that is safe and put a good influence on
their lives,” Harvick says.

“So, we do that about eight times a year and the local
police departments handle that and bring the kids to the track and
they have a great time with it. So it’s fun to see the smiles on
the kids faces.”

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 effected by
it. Others are impacted 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.

Here’s a look at some of the driver foundations and what
they benefit.

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.

Kurt Busch
Foundation
: The organization’s mission is to aid groups
involved in health care, education, career training and
rehabilitation. Busch 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Champions Grants and the
Victory Junction Gang Camp for chronically ill children, which now
includes the Jimmie Johnson’s Victory Lanes bowling alley.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The
Hermie and Elliott Sadler Foundation
: The foundation works 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.

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.

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.

NASCAR
Foundation
: 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.”
This year’s NASCAR Day, May 21, will support “renovation and race
theme decoration of a portion of the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood
Disorders Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta in Atlanta;
partnering with Bank of America for a racing-themed educational
initiative at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach,
Fla.; working with Sprint, Inc. for a playground build at the
Kansas City Ronald McDonald House in Kansas City, Mo.; A Place for
Hope project outside Charlotte, N.C., and a youth initiative at
Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.”

*Source: Foundation information based on official Web sites for
each.

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