Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mr. Philanthropist


Monday, Oct. 18, 2010, was Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
After making a donation to his foundation, fans had the chance to meet Dale, have a sit-down question and answer session, and grab some goodies. Some lucky fans even had a chance to get a ride with him in his car for few laps.

One fan in particular was a little boy from the Make-A-Wish Foundation; he did the ride around and afterward Dale Jr. gave this little boy his (used) helmet.

Last May, during All Star race weekend, Dale Jr. gave his 200th wish to a 15-year-old with a genetic kidney disorder. Only 18 percent of his kidney is functioning and the percentage will continue to decline, unless they find a kidney donor. Dale Jr. had invited him to his house, where he had the chance to race against him and Brad Keselowski at the go-kart race track in Dale’s backyard. He got a tour of JR Motorsports and when it was race time, Dale brought him on stage during driver intros. That day was also videotaped for an ESPN SportsCenter Make-A-Wish television episode.

Dale Jr. has been racing for 10 years and during that time he’s donated to over 200 charities through The Dale Jr. Foundation. According to its mission statement, the foundation is "dedicated to giving underprivileged individuals with a focus on youth, the resources to improve their confidence and education, and the opportunity to achieve extraordinary goals.” To find out more, you can visit thedalejrfoundation.org

In 2009, fans Dottie Benedict and Pati Hazel started a Fan Club Fundraiser for Dale’s birthday. The first year they successfully raised $1,500; for his 36th birthday, they raised $2,000. That money was donated to his foundation, which benefited Make-A-Wish and Blessings in a Backpack (as well as other charities).

This spring, Dale donated $1 million to Victory Junction Gang Camp, a camp for kids with illnesses that was founded and built in Adam Petty’s memory (Richard Petty’s grandson and Kyle’s son). Adam lost his life at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during a Nationwide practice session in the spring of 2000.

The money went to build the Dale Jr. Corral and Amphitheatre, which will be used as an interactive activity center for the campers. On Saturday, Oct. 23, Victory Junction will host a public open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to honor the opening of the amphitheater.

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