IRL: Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation to donate

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 24 - The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by Indy Racing League team owner Sam Schmidt and supported in large part by the motorsports community, will donate $50,000 for embryonic stem cell...

ST. LOUIS, Aug. 24 - The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by Indy Racing League team owner Sam Schmidt and supported in large part by the motorsports community, will donate $50,000 for embryonic stem cell studies conducted by the renowned Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in affiliation with Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

The formal presentation will take place Saturday afternoon at 2:15 p.m. near the start-finish line at Gateway International Raceway, where the Indy Racing Northern Light Series is making its first appearance ever this weekend.

Matching funds have been promised by the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation to bring the total contribution to $100,000.

Schmidt is recovering from serious spinal cord injuries he suffered Jan. 6, 2000 when the Indy car he was driving crashed during a practice session in Florida. He is currently an Indy Racing team owner through Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Anthony Lazzaro and Alex Barron will drive his cars under the Sam Schmidt Motorsports banner at Gateway this weekend.

Schmidt will present the check to Dr. John W. McDonald III, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurology and neurological surgery at the school of medicine and director of the spinal cord injury program, which is a joint venture between the hospital, the university and the Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis. Schmidt received extensive treatment and rehabilitation at Barnes-Jewish Hospital under Dr. McDonald's care last year after his condition had stabilized enough to permit him to be transferred to St. Louis.

Making the presentation with Schmidt will be Ed Mattix, senior vice president, public relations and brand management for Sprint, a company which is involved in motorsports and has been very supportive of the foundation and its goals. Mattix is a foundation board member.

"The motorsports family, and especially those members of the family connected to the Indy Racing Northern Light Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, should be proud that they have raised this amount of money in such a short time," said Schmidt. "When one considers that my accident was only 17 months ago, you can see that we're off to a good start, although much more remains to be done.

"Part of my duties with the foundation is to make sure that the money that is donated through us goes to a program that will use it wisely. I'm convinced that the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital's spinal cord injury program is one of the world leaders in this area.

"I am a testament to their work," he added. "I believe that stem cell research holds the most promise right now for myself and the thousands of others who have spinal cord injuries. We hope the motorsport community will continue to support this important cause so that together we can improve many lives."

"Private funds are critical to research progress," Dr. McDonald said. "These funds will be specifically used to push forward embryonic stem cell research."

For more information on the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, see www.samschmidt.org.

Donations may be made by forwarding them to: The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, 411 Dorman St., Indianapolis, Ind. 46202-3647, tel. and fax: 317-236-9999.

-SSR

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Series Charity , IndyCar
Drivers Alex Barron , Anthony Lazzaro , Sam Schmidt