Ernie Irvan's Race2Safety Foundation To Present Child Safety Helmets to Boys & Girls Clubs In Atlanta, Charleston, Columbia and Charlotte
ATLANTA (Dec. 1, 2009) -- After comprehensive fundraising efforts conducted during the first five years of its existence, former NASCAR driver Ernie Irvan's Race2Safety Foundation is set to make its first major presentation this week of more than 3,000 child bicycle safety helmets to Boys & Girls Clubs of America locations in the Southeast, as well as to a pair of organizations that also promote brain injury awareness and prevention with a special focus on kids.
Thanks to funds raised via NASCAR fan track walk events at Michigan International Speedway and Pocono Raceway, the tremendous support of the NASCAR Foundation, proceeds from personal appearances by Irvan, as well as gifts from the former driver's fans and supporters, Race2Safety will conduct helmet presentations to Boys & Girls Clubs in Atlanta, Charleston, S.C., Columbia, S.C., and the Charlotte area.
Race2Safety also will donate quantities of helmets to the Helmets for Kids organization in Minnesota headed by brain injury survivor and endurance cyclist Mike Heikes, as well as to the St. Camillus Health & Rehabilitation Center in Syracuse, N.Y.
"After raising money for the last four or five years, we are extremely excited to finally have this first opportunity to see it all come together as we make our initial presentation of bicycle helmets and to help elevate awareness of brain injuries and their effects on our lives, particularly those of children," said Irvan, whose illustrious NASCAR career was sidetracked by head injuries sustained in a horrific racing accident at Michigan International Speedway in 1994. "It's difficult to find the right words to express how happy we are to be able to donate helmets to the Boys & Girls Clubs, to Mike Heikes and his Helmets for Kids organization, and to St. Camillus. I hope this will be the first of many, many events like this in the years to come."
Even though doctors gave Irvan a one-in-10 chance of survival after his 1994 racing accident, the California-born driver proved to be a fighter during the rehabilitation process as fierce as he was a competitor on the racetrack, returning to competition the following season and, in 1996, scoring a pair of victories at New Hampshire and Richmond. Only after another series of accidents -- the first at Talladega in 1998 and the second at Michigan in 1999 -- did Irvan decide to call it a career.
In 2004, Irvan decided it was time to become a living advocate for others who had suffered injuries similar to his by founding Race2Safety with his wife Kim. The organization, which now operates as a subsidiary of the Brain Injury Association of America, is managed by the Irvans and Joe Campbell of SunTrust Bank's Sports & Entertainment Group.
The mission of Race 2 Safety is to make a positive difference in the lives of men, women and children across America by informing and educating them about the latest transportation-related head protection equipment and technologies and actively promoting the everyday use of such equipment. The organization works closely with safety equipment manufacturers, head injury prevention and treatment associations, as well as state and federal transportation safety organizations to help dramatically reduce the number of transportation-related traumatic brain injuries that occur every year.
"Ernie became an expert, although not by choice, about the personal and very real impact that brain injuries can have on people's lives, and not just the ones who suffer the injuries," said Campbell, who heads up the Race2Safety board of directors. "The effects to the family are just as traumatic, especially as medical bills mount. Ernie is a tremendous spokesperson for this cause. Doctors gave him a 10 percent chance to live and a zero percent chance of ever driving his kids to school. But he came back, won races, and now leads a very normal life."
The schedule for this week's helmet presentation events is as follows:
ATLANTA -- Thursday, Dec. 3 at 1 p.m. -- Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Headquarters, 1275 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta, Ga., 30309.
ATLANTA -- Thursday, Dec. 3 at 3:30 p.m. -- Boys & Girls Clubs of Brookhaven, 1330 North Druid Hills Road NE, Atlanta, Ga., 30319.
ATLANTA -- Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4:45 p.m. -- Boys & Girls Clubs of Warren/Holyfield, 790 Berne Street SE, Atlanta, Ga., 30316.
CHARLESTON -- Friday, Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. -- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Trident Area, 22 Mary Street, Charleston, S.C. 29403.
COLUMBIA -- Saturday, Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. -- Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, 2016 Sumter Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201.
CHARLOTTE -- Saturday, Dec. 5, 2 p.m. -- Boys & Girls Clubs of abarrus CCounty, 247 Spring Street NW, Concord, N.C. 28025.