Labonte's SUBWAY 500 Finish Helps Martinsville-Henry County Youngsters Get Head Start On Reading MARTINSVILLE, VA (January 17, 2007) -- Richard Petty's race cars have always run well at Martinsville Speedway. In fact, his cars have won more...
Labonte's SUBWAY 500 Finish Helps Martinsville-Henry County Youngsters Get Head Start On Reading
MARTINSVILLE, VA (January 17, 2007) -- Richard Petty's race cars have always run well at Martinsville Speedway. In fact, his cars have won more races on the half-mile oval than any other team.
But it was a third-place finish by one of Petty's race cars at Martinsville Speedway on October 22 that made big winners out of youngsters in Martinsville and Henry County.
Bobby Labonte, who now drives Petty's familiar No. 43 Dodge, finished third in the SUBWAY 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race that afternoon, completing all 500 laps. That was the best run in several years at Martinsville for both Labonte and Petty Enterprises. And it couldn't have come at a better time for reading programs in Martinsville and Henry County.
Last fall Cheerios, Labonte's sponsor, and nonprofit organization First Book created "Race to Books," an initiative to donate 43 books for every lap Labonte completed during the final 10 races of the 2006 season.
By completing all 500 laps in the SUBWAY 500, 21,500 children's books have been contributed to the United Way of Martinsville and Henry County by Cheerios and First Book. The books will be distributed by Success By 6, an early childhood program. Some of the books have also been given to the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club to use with their children's programs.
"We are overwhelmed by this generous donation from Cheerios and First Book," said Sheryl Agee, Director of the United Way's Success By 6 Initiative. "This donation of books will enable us to continue our efforts to promote pre-literacy skills among the youngest in our community and to ensure that all children have books in the home."
Of the areas surrounding the 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup tracks benefiting from the program, the Martinsville area received the highest number of books. The estimated value of the 21,500 books donated locally is over $220,000.
"We really didn't have anything to do with this program at all, but we're really happy that Cheerios involved Martinsville Speedway because it is going to mean so much to our community," said Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell. "That many books will have a long-lasting impact on so many youngsters."
The "Race For Books" projects raised a total of 126,893 books during the final 10 weeks of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season.
"We had tremendous success this season with the 'Race for Books'," said Labonte. "Kids need to have books at home so they can learn to read, which is so important for their future. We all pulled together to earn as many books as we could. It just so happened that we had some of our best races at the end of the season."