One must be a NASCAR fan to understand the loyalty and commitment the fans have for their driver. The drivers will tell you NASCAR fans are the greatest most loyal fans of any sport and without the fans there would be no NASCAR. There is an excitement in wearing your favorite drivers’ number or colors on a shirt or jacket. Something cool about color coating everything you own to match the colors on your driver’s car. Like other sports where your driver finishes at the end of the season will determine how great a year your driver had or didn’t have in some cases, numbers don’t lie some would say.
[media-credit name=”(c) CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”236″][/media-credit]Let’s switch gears some and look at our drivers’ off the track. Would it surprise you if I said that most drivers would like their fans to be aware of their off the track commitments as well? More than half if not three quarters of the drivers in NASCAR have established a foundation or organization to help children, animals and families in their time of need and to give back to the less fortunate.
Kyle Petty and his family established and even expanded over the last several years their organization Victory Junction Camp for Children. VJC was built in honor of Kyle and Patti Petty’s son Adam Petty who died at New Hampshire Speedway in May 2000. Thousands of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illness are able to spend a week at the “hole in the wall camp” which is also medically sound with a staff of professionals on hand to meet the needs of these children if need be. In 2006, Victory Junction Camp was to expand by building a superdome, indoor sporting facility at which time superstar Tony Stewart donated a million dollars to the project to make a great place even better!
Other Nascar stars have donated their time and money to established some other great charities, such as the Jeff Gordon Foundation. This is the Children’s Hospital in Concord, NC which focuses on children with cancer. Hermie and Elliott Sadler have Sadler Foundation to raise Autism awareness. Tony Stewart has established the Tony Stewart foundations which administers to sick and injured children, abused and homeless animals and fellow drivers injured in accidents to help their families. Tony’s motto is “together we can accelerate change”.
The main focus on this article is to honor a foundation, a sponsor, a driver and a child cancer patient and his family. Children’s healthcare of Atlanta, Aflac Cancer Center & blood disorder services, the driver is Carl Edwards and Kyle H. Abernathy. Kyle is my reason for writing this article, sharing his story and hopes to bring more awareness and one day a cure to childhood cancer and blood disorders. Kyle Abernathy is 11 years old, lives in LaGrange Georgia with Dad, and his sisters. Kyle was diagnosed in November 2010 with Ewing Sarcoma. The cancer started in the left femur and a spot on his lungs which was removed in December of 2010. After several more biopsies he began chemotherapy in December 2010 and to date has 3 more treatments and will begin radiation on his lungs. In March of 2011 Kyle’s left femur was replaced with what his Dad refers to as his new bionic leg. Kyle loves fishing, roller skating and Nascar, his favorite driver is non-other than the driver of the 99 Aflac Ford Fusion.
Kyle loves Jesus, his family and the Aflac clinic, Doctors and staff who has taken care of him and his family since November 2010. Through the surgeries, treatments and trips from LaGrange to Atlanta for his care his Dad, Toby has posted pictures on FB along the way to share their faith and progress and incredible story of courage. The LaGrange community and surrounding areas began a prayer rally for Kyle and his family but it didn’t stop there. Kyle’s Aunt Paula had wrist bands made from donations requesting prayer for this precious child. They are yellow bands with red writing that read “Team Kyle”. These wrist bands which started in LaGrange have been given out to supporters from Niagara Falls to Gulf Shores to Saudi Arabia. The battle has not been won yet, but with the support of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Aflac and Carl Edwards, Kyle Abernathy and his family know they are all being taken care of completely.
Carl Edwards and Aflac are only one of many drivers and sponsors who are giving back to those in need. The money these foundations raise to promote awareness and build hospitals, allow sick children and families the best care, research and accommodation’s while experiencing the devastation of cancer and other illnesses.
As a fan, I urge you to not allow follow your driver on the track but off the track as well. Help your favorite driver and his organization continue to provide all we can to help others in need.
You can log on to NASCAR.com and find your driver and their foundation or you can Google it and find it there as well. NASCAR fans are the greatest and I am proud to be one of them!