By Matt Lederers
Originally published by Comcast NBCUniversal
We created the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award at the start of our NASCAR sponsorship to recognize the incredible individuals in the NASCAR family giving back to their communities in remarkable ways. I am proud to say this program has far exceeded all expectations, and the ongoing commitment to giving back within the sport continues to inspire us.
This year, we have introduced an exciting element of the program, allowing fans to weigh in with their nomination for the next Comcast Community Champion of the Year. Fans and members of the industry alike can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to nominate.
Since the program kicked off in 2015, Comcast has donated a total of $360,000 to inspirational individuals in NASCAR who are truly living Comcast's core values. From work with the Iowa Donor Network to hosting camps for children with heart disease, we have been able to shine a much-deserved spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their lives to making a difference beyond the track.
As we embark on the 2018 program, here's a little inspiration from our 2017 Champion and finalists:
The Chip Ganassi Racing Pit Crew Department made the decision early on that they would use their role as a team to help their local Charlotte, North Carolina community. Led by coaches Shaun Peet and Mike Metcalf, the entire department gathers regularly to help organizations throughout the city.
With the $60,000 donation the team received from Comcast, the group has continued their long-standing work with Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte. The donation allows the House to provide rooms, meals and services to families in need while children are in local hospitals for care. Over the years, the Department gathered with the Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte during the holidays to support their efforts in various ways -- from providing bikes to the children staying at the House to serving meals to their families.
"We want people on our team who are dedicated and committed to sharing simple acts of kindness," said Peet. "We chose the Ronald McDonald House to receive [Comcast's] donation because we believe in their mission. When a family needs to use the services of the house, that is a difficult time for them and if we can lighten that burden, it is more than worth it to offer our time and resources."
Seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion and 2017 finalist Jimmie Johnson used the $30,000 finalist donation from Comcast to further the Jimmie Johnson Foundation's Champions Grant Program. This program gives back to public schools in California, Oklahoma and North Carolina, all states that hold special meaning to Johnson and his wife, Chandra. With support from Comcast, the foundation was able to help 13 public schools in 2017.
"Chani and I are so grateful to Comcast and appreciate all they do to recognize the outstanding charitable work within the NASCAR industry," said Johnson. "It is an honor to be a part of such a generous and giving community. We couldn't be more proud that the Jimmie Johnson Foundation was recognized as a finalist in 2017."
For 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski, the $30,000 finalist donation from Comcast enabled Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation to double its support with the National Military Family Association. Through this partnership, Keselowski's organization is able to sponsor an Operation Purple Healing Adventure, a free three-day experience for families that encourages growth on their new journey post-injury through family fun and outdoor exploration. The families were also treated to a VIP race day experience at Charlotte Motor Speedway's Bank of America 500.
"As a finalist for the Comcast Community Champion Award, I was humbled and also very proud to be part of that select group. My hope with the Checkered Flag Foundation is to leave a meaningful legacy that continues to grow long after I'm gone," said Keselowski. "This type of recognition lends credibility to the work we are doing to assist those who have sacrificed greatly for our country, and the donation from Comcast enabled us to make more of an impact than ever before. It's inspiring to work with partners such as Comcast who highlight and encourage the philanthropic efforts of our NASCAR industry, and their support is greatly appreciated."
We hope this inspires race fans everywhere to join us in the search for the 2018 champion by visiting ComcastCommunityChampion.com. All we ask is that you share a story about your favorite NASCAR driver, team member, official or media member, and why you believe he / she should be the next Comcast Community Champion.