One of the best things about NASCAR is the philanthropy of the people in the sport. Following is yet another example.
For 2016, The Dale Jr. Foundation's (TDJF) Driven to Give Gloves program will focus on four Patient Champions from Nationwide Children's Hospital. As it did last year in its debut, the program will feature the auctioning of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s race-worn gloves four times during the 10-month NASCAR season.
"The Driven to Give Gloves program was very successful for The Foundation last year," said Earnhardt Jr. "I'm looking forward to doing it again with a little different format in 2016. We're teaming up with Nationwide Children's Hospital to represent four Patient Champions that we will have coming to Kentucky Speedway in July. Nationwide's commitment to our team and our Foundation is very gratifying and means a lot to everyone involved."
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The signature skeleton-themed design of Earnhardt Jr.'s Alpinestars gloves will feature a different color for each of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Patient Champions to raise awareness and funds for the Hospital's clinical and research programs. Nationwide Children's is America's largest pediatric hospital and research center with all care provided regardless of a family's ability to pay.
"Nationwide Children's is grateful to The Dale Jr. Foundation and Nationwide for this innovative and exciting collaboration," Jim Digan, president of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Foundation, said. "This initiative provides an opportunity for our Patient Champions to share their personal stories and greatly supports the hospital's mission of helping kids everywhere."
Driven to Give Gloves will kick off in April with Earnhardt Jr. wearing gloves accented in blue to raise awareness and funds for Autism. The Patient Champion will be Aiden Vanwagner. In May, Earnhardt Jr.'s gloves will have lavender accents for Pediatric Cancer and highlight Patient Champion Grant Reed. (Complete list below).
In July, the glove color switches to gold for Hearing Impairment and fans will meet Patient Champion Tarissa Suchecki, and in November, they'll have a gray hue for Diabetes with featured Patient Champion Dalton Miller. At the end of each month, Earnhardt Jr. will sign the gloves for auction at TDJF's eBay store with all of the proceeds going to benefit care and research.
"Last year we brought out the Driven to Give Gloves program as an initiative to help spread the word about The Foundation and its mission," said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports and vice-president of TDJF. "It was very successful in doing that, and highlighting Patient Champions from Nationwide Children's Hospital sharpens our focus on helping children in need. This program also allows us to help further Nationwide Children's Hospital's pioneering work in pediatric medicine."
TDJF's mission is to give underprivileged individuals, with a focus on youth, the resources to improve their confidence and education, and the opportunity to achieve extraordinary goals. Since 2007, TDJF has contributed to charities on local, regional and national levels through donations and nonmonetary aids. The Driven to Give Gloves program has raised more than $97,000. For more information, visit www.thedalejrfoundation.org.
The complete list of glove colors to be worn by Earnhardt Jr. and the Patient Champions the TDJF will aid in 2016 is as follows:
April -- Blue Gloves (Autism) 8-year-old Aiden Vanwagner: Aiden was diagnosed with Autism at an early age but under the care of Nationwide Children's Hospital's Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Aiden has received individualized and comprehensive interventions and is enjoying school in a mainstream classroom. Researchers at Nationwide Children's have many active research projects underway to determine causes and effective new treatments for autism.
May -- Lavender Gloves (Pediatric Cancer) 15-year-old Grant Reed: On May 7, 2012, Grant was diagnosed with Medullablastoma, a brain tumor in the back of the head near the brain stem. The tumor was removed three days later but through the removal he developed a syndrome that left him with severe complications and he was admitted to the inpatient rehabilitation unit at Nationwide Children's where he regained control of his speech and physical abilities. An avid NASCAR fan, Grant loves following this sport and his father has a history of working in the industry.
July -- Gold Gloves (Hearing Impairment) 11-year-old Tarissa Suchecki: Tarissa was born more than two months premature and suffered from complications of prematurity. She spent the first seven months of her life at Nationwide Children's. One of the complications was profound hearing loss. Despite many challenges, Tarissa has grown into a beautiful young lady who enjoys fourth grade and pageant competitions. Nationwide Children's is home to America's largest neonatal care network and research center.
November -- Gray Gloves (Diabetes) 11-year-old Dalton Miller: In December 2012, Dalton was diagnosed with Type I diabetes but that has not stopped him from being a very active young man. He works closely with his clinical team to manage his condition carefully letting him live a normal life. He is very aware of his illness and constant monitoring of his food and beverages has helped him learn his math skills.