In support of the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Dale Jr. Foundation has announced its 2019 Driven to Give Gloves program. After raising more than $50,000 for Nationwide Children’s and the fund last season, the program is centered on the July 12 and July 13 events at Kentucky Speedway.
This year, 55 drivers in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series races will wear Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s signature skeleton driving gloves during the events on the 1.5-mile oval in Sparta, Ky. In addition to the gloves, Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman (No. 88) will carry a special Nationwide Children’s Hospital paint scheme for the event, as will JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Once the racing events are concluded, the race-worn gloves will be signed by the driver and Dale Jr. and then placed on The NASCAR Foundation’s auction site nascarfoundation.org/dalejr. The proceeds from the event, which is set to go live on July 12, will be directed to the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund, which champions the cause of pediatric injury rehabilitation, research and prevention. During the past three seasons, the Driven to Give Gloves program has raised more than $150,000 for Nationwide Children’s and the fund.
“Nationwide Children’s Hospital is very important to The Dale Jr. Foundation, and both Amy and I are extremely proud that our fund at the hospital has raised more than $1.3M in less than 2 years,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Last year, we expanded the Driven to Give gloves program to more than 30 drivers, and this year we’ll nearly double that thanks to all the support we have received from the drivers and teams. Helping Nationwide Children’s Hospital in its quest to offer fantastic, cutting-edge care and treatment to chronically ill children is a very worthy cause and one we plan to support for many years to come.”
In November 2017, Earnhardt Jr. and his wife, Amy, created the Dale and Amy Earnhardt Fund at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and it was seeded with an $88,888 donation from The Dale Jr. Foundation.
“Each year, we are excited to be part of the Driven to Give Gloves program and this year is certainly no different,” said Niki Shafer, senior vice president, outreach. “We are grateful to Amy, Dale Jr. and the team at The Dale Jr. Foundation, and all the drivers who are using their racing platform to help support pediatric research and care at Nationwide Children’s.”
Members of Nationwide Children’s Hospital Patient Champion Program and their families will be in attendance at the NASCAR Cup Series event at Kentucky on July 13 as guests of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team and driver Alex Bowman.
The three Patient Champions are:
Austin Warren, age 17: Austin loves building and restoring custom trucks. He was driving his vintage 1952 International pickup, which he and his father had built, on July 21, 2018 when he was involved in an accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury. He spent six nights in a local hospital (two in an induced coma) and then 12 more nights at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Less than a year after his accident, Austin has made nearly a complete recovery. He still enjoys building trucks and going to car shows, NASCAR, racing go-karts and woodworking, for which he has won multiple state fair awards. In 4-H water sports, the young man built a custom hydroplane boat and enjoys water skiing and going to Daytona Beach. Entering his senior year, Austin will graduate with honors from both high school and the Automotive Technology Program at the Apollo Career Center. He has applied to the University of Northern Ohio’s High Performance Motorsports program to continue his education.
Brooklyn Malone, age 7: Brooklyn was diagnosed with a heart murmur and a slow heartbeat during her six-month checkup as an infant, and she and her family were sent to Nationwide Children’s Hospital that same afternoon. After being monitored every six months, doctors at Nationwide Children’s decided to implant a pacemaker to treat her AV Block Type 2 in December 2014. Since that procedure, Brooklyn has healed wonderfully and emerged with just one scar, which she calls her “princess scar.” She was dressed as Princess Tiana from Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” on the day of her surgery. Brooklyn loves animals, her church, school, soccer, reading and challenging herself.
Emma Grace Belcher, age 11: Emma Grace contracted bronchitis at eight months old and ended up in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, beginning a four-year journey in and out of the hospital. She suffered from recurrent pneumonia and was placed on antibiotics for two years. As she began kindergarten, she was diagnosed with Asthmatic Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affects all of her body’s systems, and began physical therapy, including aquatics and yoga. Nicknamed Emoji, Emma Grace enjoys all types of arts and crafts, is in the ORFF ensemble and plays the trumpet in school. She attends youth group, is a cheerleader and loves playing softball.