UNICEF thanks Villeneuve

UNICEF thanks Villeneuve with a Gift of magic the gift of Health Having promoted UNICEF during his 2007 NASCAR race and test program, NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie, Jacques Villeneuve welcomed UNICEF Canada to his Newtown restaurant in downtown ...

UNICEF thanks Villeneuve with a Gift of magic the gift of Health

Having promoted UNICEF during his 2007 NASCAR race and test program, NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie, Jacques Villeneuve welcomed UNICEF Canada to his Newtown restaurant in downtown Montreal, on the occasion of UNICEF's annual donor recognition event. This was the first opportunity for Villeneuve and the children's charity to co-present an event, which included an update in respect of UNICEF's newest initiatives.

Speaking in front of an intimate group of UNICEF's generous contributors, Villeneuve explained how he had made the decision to promote UNICEF to NASCAR's 75 million fans in 2007. Father to two infant sons, Villeneuve has embraced UNICEF's catalytic initiative, focused on helping build the capacity of national health systems in developing countries, delivering essential primary health care services for children and pregnant women to combat preventable childhood diseases. The driver, one of the world's most well-known, touched on the deaths of as many as 9.7m children annually from --minently preventable diseases' and while thanking UNICEF's many donors for their efforts to date, he called for them to join him in continuing to help wherever, and however possible. Towards the end of the evening the former F1 World Champion was presented with a very special gift; a symbolic gift of health presented by Mme Dallaire, Chair of the Gifts of Magic committee and Wife of Senator and former General, Romeo Dallaire, in recognition of the benefit Villeneuve has already made to children's lives through his support of the catalytic initiative.

Speaking immediately after Friday's event, Ms. Lili-Anna Peresa, Director of UNICEF Canada praised the Montreal-based Toyota race driver, commenting: "We are all so happy to have Jacques' support. When he offered to promote UNICEF on his race car, we had no idea of how much attention it would generate; of how far afield he would spread our word; and of how many new supporters it would bring us. UNICEF is very lucky to have a supporter like Jacques; someone who is truly committed and who brings an incredible amount of attention to our cause."

As the last of the guests exited the recognized bar and restaurant, Villeneuve spoke of his pleasure in carrying the colours of UNICEF: "None of us could have known how successful the UNICEF NASCAR initiative would prove. I'm no expert, but when I saw the (media valuation) numbers, I realised that it had delivered more than any of us had expected over US$6m of PR value in the first weekend alone. In the battle to save children's lives, that is something that the entire NASCAR community should be proud of." When asked for his reaction to the news of the gift of health donated in his name, he appeared flattered: "That was a total surprise. When I was told, it didn't sink in what they were saying it was something totally different, and I'm just glad to have had the chance to help make a difference to a great organization."

-credit: jv

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Series Charity
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve