With Star Drivers Watching, NASCAR Foundation Honors Humanitarians

With Star Drivers Watching, NASCAR Foundation Honors Humanitarians

Thursday, September 29, 2016

USA Today - Larry Berger, USA TODAY Sports4:42 p.m. EDT September 28, 2016 NEW YORK 

There were heroes scattered throughout the Marriott Marquis ballroom at the NASCAR Foundation’s inaugural Honors Gala on Tuesday.

Among those in attendance were a six-time Sprint Cup series champion, a driver who has found Victory Lane over 160 times and one of the most recognizable and commercially successful athletes on the planet.

But while Jimmie JohnsonKyle Busch and Danica Patrick were the most identifiable names in the house, the lights of New York shined brightest on six humanitarians who are fulfilling the mission of the 10-year-old NASCAR Foundation every day by improving “the life and health of children who need it most.”

Howard B. Ginsburg is the Division Chief of Pediatric Surgery at NYU Langone. He has saved countless lives treating conditions involving the heart, lungs and cancer.  His efforts will receive a jolt thanks to a $1 million NASCAR Foundation contribution to be made to the Child Life Program at NYU Langone.

“There aren’t words that can accurately capture how rewarding this is to Brian and I,” said Amy France, wife of NASCAR CEO and Chairman Brian France. “We are beyond thrilled to be part of something so impactful and rewarding.”

NBC Broadcasting and Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus was also recognized for his sizable charitable endeavors with youngsters, as were a group of four people accomplishing extraordinary feats on behalf of children in need.

Andy Hoffman emerged from the quartet as the winner of the sixth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. Betty Jane France, who spearheaded the creation and evolution of the foundation, died last month. She was clearly on the minds of those in attendance, especially her son and daughter-in-law.

“This was a night she was looking forward to, but we will remember her in a big way,” said Betty Jane’s son, Brian. “I think she would be very proud of the industry and the foundation that she clearly helped create. I’m sure she’s looking down with a big smile.”

Hoffman formed the “Team Jack Foundation” named for his son who was diagnosed with pediatric brain cancer in 2011. He’s raised $3 million during the past five years to fund research and awareness for the disease worldwide, especially in his home state of Nebraska.

Hoffman, who won the online vote conducted on NASCAR.com, also received a $100,000 NASCAR Foundation donation.

While the 37-year-old from Atkinson, Neb., was selected as the winner, three other philanthropists who provide significant contributions to children who face a variety of challenges were each presented $25,000 checks for their charities.

Jim Giaccone lost his brother Joseph in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. His “Tuesday’s Children” charity provides ongoing support to kids impacted by the events of 9/11 and other traumatic losses.

Logan Houptley launched “Mikayla’s Voice” after befriending a third-grade classmate with multiple disabilities. A decade later, the 20-year-old maintains his bond with Mikayla, and advocates for inclusion and acceptance of all people with disabilities.

As a mother of two young children, Parker White possesses an intense desire to aid families struggling to provide necessities for their kids. Her “BackPack Beginnings” charity provides youngsters in North Carolina with nutritious food, clothing and other essentials.

During this time period where negativity and tragedy dominate the daily headlines -- including within NASCAR’s home city of Charlotte -- the gala served as a reminder of the impact sports can have. Tuesday’s gala raised $1.6 million, upping the NASCAR Foundation’s decade-long total to more than $25 million.

Those funds have helped fuel the heroes celebrated at the Honors Gala.

“It continues to energize us,” said Amy France. “As we see the impact it has on people, children and families, it reinvigorates us; inspires us to do more.”

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