More about Joe and his cause: Joe has been volunteering for 19 years and currently serves as the chairman of the Project HOPE Foundation’s board of directors. The foundation mission is to provide a lifespan of services to the autism community to help families, open minds, promotion inclusion and expand potential. The foundation provides approximately 30 hours of therapy weekly to more than 200 children in its programs. Joe raises autism awareness using innovative means, advocating for funding and providing “sweat equity” to renovate foundation facilities. Joe has personally donated more than $1 million and has helped raise more than $2.5 million. Joe has been a NASCAR fan for 45 years and considers Denny Hamlin his favorite driver. Funds received from winning the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award would support 10,000 hours of therapy.
In Joe’s words: “The way I look at it is that there is no reason for anyone’s child, just because they have a disability, to end up with second best. They deserve the best possible facilities and the best tools to work with, so they can be all they can be. It’s really been a blessing [to be with the foundation]. This truly tugged at my heart [when I got involved initially] very heavily, just to see the children, what obstacles they were facing – and what the parents were facing. A lot of people look for the real-big accomplishments, miracles, but when you’re dealing with children with autism, the little things are what make a big difference. Things like the little steps they start taking when you’re getting them out of their shell and getting them to start opening up. You know what these kids can do; you just have to open the right doors.”