Team owner humbled by Patriotic Honor named after late entertainer Bob Hope
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (September 26, 2013) – Panther Racing managing partner John Barnes has been named a recipient of the prestigious Spirit of Hope Award, and will be honored at a ceremony in Washington DC on November 19th. Barnes has been the driving force behind Panther Racing’s partnership with the National Guard since 2008 and the Spirit of Hope award is given annually to individuals whose, “commitment and dedication to service in support of the Armed Forces and their families embodies the ideals and values exemplified by the late Mr. Bob Hope.”
Barnes recently created the team’s “Operation: Hire Our Guard” employment program that fights unemployment issues facing National Guard soldiers. As part of the program Panther invites local business and military leadership to its events and educates employers on the unemployment crisis and the benefits of hiring Veterans, and then makes the connections between the companies in attendance and local military leadership.
“To be recognized in the same light as Bob Hope, and all the great things that he did for our military, is unbelievably humbling,” Barnes said. “I’m not somebody who goes after awards like this, because I always feel like there are others more deserving. But at Panther Racing we’re very privileged to have an opportunity to make a positive impact on our National Guard service members and their families. This only continues to further dedicate myself and our team to make the most of the responsibility we have representing these great men and women.”
Earlier this year Barnes was asked to testify in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs during a Congressional hearing entitled, “Lowering the Rate of Unemployment for the National Guard and Reserve – Are We Making Progress?” During the 2012 season alone Panther’s program provided Veterans exposure to approximately 9,300 job opportunities and – based on a conservative approach – as many as 4,300 National Guard soldiers have been employed as a result of the “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program.
The Spirit of Hope award was established in 1997 and is presented by the Wiegand Foundation in honor of Bob Hope, the famed entertainer and supporter of military personnel. The award is presented to men and women of the Armed Forces, entertainers and other distinguished Americans or organizations that embody Hope’s commitment and service to the men and women of the military. Previous recipients included actor Gary Sinise, former NewYork City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Walter Cronkite, Ann-Margret and former President George H. W. Bush.