Captain's Corner - How Keselowski's Foundation is helping veterans
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Many fans are familiar with Brad Keselowski’s work with military veterans and first responders and their families through his Checkered Flag Foundation.
What they may not know is how the foundation has transformed over the last year and the number of new initiatives it has planned this year, in particular focused around the upcoming Memorial Day race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway and later this fall during the NASCAR playoffs.
“We took a step back last year and, over the course of about six months, re-focused our mission statement and defined the direction and our plan for 2017 and beyond,” said the foundation’s Executive Director, Suzanne Boyd.
“In the past, much of the Foundation’s efforts have gone toward hosting activities that benefit a specific (and typically small) group of people. Our plan moving forward is to have an increased focus on fundraising. Throughout the year, we will offer a variety of opportunities for both corporate and public fundraising.
“We will then provide grants to foundations that have well-established programs that help the people who fit our mission – those people who have sacrificed for our country.”
Since its inception on July 10, 2010, the foundation has supported over 50 organizations and individuals to help veterans and first responders during their road to recovery.
That included inviting numerous military veterans who had sustained severe injuries in battle to participate in ride-alongs at NASCAR tracks through the foundation’s “Race 2 Recovery” program.
Boyd said one reason for the change in the foundation’s approach is so it can reach more people more effectively.
“That’s a fundamental shift in how we approach things and we haven’t really shared that broadly up to this point,” she said. “So, right now we’re about fundraising and selecting the organizations we will partner with in order to help the greatest number of people and in the most impactful way possible.”
One of the recent additions, an orthodontist in Cornelius, N.C., is offering free orthodontic care to a veteran every time Keselowski wins a race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The first veteran began treatment through the program last week.
The CFF is also partnering with the Fisher House Foundation, which provides comfort homes for families while their loved ones are being treated at nearby hospitals.
As a Michigan native, Keselowski’s foundation is raising money to build a Fisher House in Ann Arbor, Mich. Keselowski recently visited a house being built in Augusta, Ga., to familiarize himself with the program.
CFF will host a corporate fundraiser in about a month to benefit the construction of the Fisher House in Ann Arbor.
This fall, the CFF will focus on fan fundraising initiatives, with additional partnerships planned to support the National Military Families Association as well as the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
“We’re fortunate that Brad is already locked into the playoffs, so we want to capitalize on that, with most of our efforts culminating around Veteran’s Day,” Boyd said.
Another partnership is with Hope for the Warriors, who not only identifies the candidates for the orthodontic care, but they have also helped match Keselowski with a Gold Star family from Michigan that he will host at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the May 28 Coca-Cola 600.
In addition, as part of the NASCAR Salutes program Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford in the Coca-Cola 600 will carry the name of a fallen veteran, Staff Sargent Nicholas A. Sprovtsoff, USMC.
“I think the most part rewarding for me has been how passionate Brad and Paige are about the Foundation’s work. In a world where he is pulled in so many directions, it’s inspiring to see how genuine and selfless he is with his time,” Boyd said.
“From Day One, he has made it clear to me that this Foundation is very important to him, and that he considers the work we do a very small gesture of thanks for the tremendous sacrifice that others have made. I have veterans in my family and am able to relate to some of the people that we help.
“Witnessing first-hand Brad’s genuine appreciation and how people light up when he’s involved, it just makes me want to work even harder to achieve our goals.”
For more information on Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation, you can write them at 258 W. Aviation Dr., Statesville, NC 28677; call (704) 799-0206; or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. @BKCFF or CheckeredFlagFoundation.org
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