Each year, The NASCAR Foundation searches for NASCAR fans who are doing great things, work worthy of one of our sport’s ultimate forms of recognition – the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. We continue to be amazed by our fans’ passion and level of commitment not only to helping children live happier, healthier lives but also to the sport of NASCAR.
Cliff Preston, a 2018 finalist for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, truly embodies what our award is about.
He has volunteered for more than 20 years as part of the UF Health Shands cuddler program in the NICU and has a longtime love of NASCAR, which evolved from his affinity for muscle cars and stock cars as a young man.
“Being a finalist has rekindled my interest in NASCAR,” Cliff said. “Previously I would try to watch the races as my schedule permitted. Subsequently I have attended races, watch NASCAR America and NASCAR Race HUB whenever possible and I have the SIRIUS XM APP on my phone so that I can listen when I am not in my car. I have also purchased items related to NASCAR, the teams and drivers.”
At Kansas Speedway in October 2018, Cliff got his first glimpse of the power of NASCAR when he joined the other three award finalists for a behind-the-scenes VIP experience as part of the finalist announcement and fan vote kick-off.
“To be able to get inside the entire racing experience, have almost unlimited access and meet so many people while sharing it with the other was finalists was something that I could not have imagined,” Cliff said. “A big part of that weekend is that The NASCAR Foundation did such a great job of arranging those experiences and being with us every step along the way.”
Cliff’s experience that weekend kicked his passion for NASCAR into overdrive, as it paved the way to finding more ways to get involved as the 2019 NASCAR season kicked off.
The start of a new NASCAR season is always exciting – beginning with the anticipation surrounding Speedweeks and the Daytona 500. Cliff and his family were excited to finally make good on their plans to attend “The Great American Race” this year.
It brought new meaning to Cliff, as he was not only attending this race as a fan but also as a member of The NASCAR Foundation family.
“The Daytona 500 experience with my brother and nephews had been anticipated for some time but the award nomination spurred me to action and made that trip happen,” Cliff explained of his trip from Gainesville to the Daytona 500.
“The bonus was being able to reconnect with some of The NASCAR Foundation crew. Seeing my name on the hauler gave me a sense of satisfaction in that I could share that with others and bring more attention to The NASCAR Foundation.”
Cliff’s dedication to charitable causes extends beyond UF Health and The NASCAR Foundation. He recently was able to honor his brothers Chad and Steve, who are both veterans, by contributing to Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation to honor them on Brad’s car at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
As a special treat, Cliff was able to attend the race and see the names on the car – and to see Brad again, as they had met in 2018 during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards.
We urge you to help us find more volunteers like Cliff; volunteers who share his passion for helping children in need and for NASCAR, by nominating someone for this year’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.
Nominations will be accepted until Friday, March 22.