RLR/Andersen Racing and Summerton Are Helping to Give Kids the World
KISSIMMEE, Fla., May 9 - Some special children will be cheering for RLR/Andersen Racing's Jonathan Summerton to do well in the Firestone Freedom 100 on Friday, May 22 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Most of them don't know that Summerton is the current Firestone Indy Lights point leader. They just know the tall blond with the quick smile is a race car driver, and he cares enough about them to spend some time volunteering at the Give Kids The World Village in his hometown of Kissimmee, Fla.
Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre, non-profit resort that provides cost-free accommodations, donated tickets to the Orlando, Fla.-area attractions, meals and more for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations, and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids The World has welcomed more than 95,000 families from all 50 states and more than 68 countries since it opened in 1989.
Firestone Indy Lights fans may have noticed the Give Kids the World decals on Summerton's No. 9, which also carries advertising for Allied Interior Products, Lafarge North America and Mockett & Co. Summerton knew of the not-for-profit organization's existence for many years since he's from Kissimmee, but he recently checked it out first-hand for himself. He liked what he saw, and ended up signing up both as a volunteer and as a marketing partner to help raise awareness and funds for the unique facility. He's gotten his Palmetto, Fla.-based team involved too, as well as his mother, Janet, who signed up as a volunteer with her son.
Over the Easter holiday Summerton dished up ice cream for guests at the resort. Yesterday he and his mother were both working at the facility's ice cream parlor, and tonight he's attending a fund-raising gala for the not-for-profit organization.
"I'm very excited to be a part of Give Kids the World," Summerton said. "It is such a great place for the kids and their families to go. I enjoy being a volunteer there and a supporter of their charity. I'm very pleased to be racing for them."
"We are so excited to begin this new partnership with Jonathan Summerton and RLR/Andersen Racing," shared Pamela Landwirth, president, Give Kids The World. "All of us at Give Kids The World are honored to have Jonathan as one of our volunteers, and now we are ready to cheer him on this season. He is truly helping us to continue to inspire hope for children who need it most!"
Andersen Racing strives to provide drivers like Summerton with the best training possible so they can make careers as race car drivers. The development team of Rahal Letterman Racing, it will field cars for Summerton, Mario Romancini and Ali Jackson in the Firestone Freedom 100 at IMS on May 22. But before drivers reach that level, Andersen Racing offers programs in karting, Formula BMW Americas and the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Next weekend four of its Star Mazda drivers - Conor Daly (Derek Daly's son), Richard Kent, Denis Navarro and Mikael Grenier - will be competing under the Andersen Racing banner at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, similar to how Graham Rahal raced in that series with Andersen Racing before he became an IndyCar star.
An impressive resource of Andersen Racing's development program is Andersen RacePark, the team's own 1-mile road course test track at its headquarters in Palmetto, Fla. It is a favorite of area go-karters. Team and track co-owners Dan and John Andersen, who also own and operate construction companies in their native New Jersey, have agreed to help underwrite certain costs for corporate fund-raisers at Andersen RacePark to benefit Give Kids the World. Companies' employees would raise donations for Give Kids the World similar to other relay-race promotions, and then enjoy a day at the track in Andersen RacePark's fleet of 12 brand-new Birel 9-horsepower concession karts that are capable of speeds up to 40 miles per hour.
What's more, Andersen RacePark personnel are also exploring the possibility of fitting six slightly smaller karts for Give Kids the World guests whose wish might be to drive a kart at Andersen RacePark. This idea will proceed on an individual basis based on each pre-teen's physical condition.
"As a team we applaud Jonathan's involvement with Give Kids the World, as well as our Star Mazda drivers' involvement in the Racing for Kids program, and we'll try to support them all however we can," said Dan Andersen. "Our whole team is set up to help young drivers make their dreams come true and succeed in a very tough sport, auto racing. It's great when any driver takes the time to help others who are dealing with their own, even more important battles against life-threatening illnesses or injuries. We're proud that they're keeping things in perspective as they move up racing's ladder."
To learn more on the Internet, see gktw.org, andersenracingteam.com, andersenracepark.com, jonathansummerton.com and indycar.com/pro.
The Freedom 100 is scheduled to be telecast live on VERSUS at noon Friday, May 22.