The NASCAR Foundation announced Ralph Maccarone as the winner of the 12th annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award during a live-streamed announcement on NASCAR’s YouTube channel Thursday. As the award winner, Maccarone secured a $100,000 donation from The NASCAR Foundation to Who We Play For, a nationwide organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable sudden cardiac arrest in young people through affordable heart screenings.
“It’s a great honor to have won the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award,” said Maccarone following the announcement. “The entire NASCAR organization and The NASCAR Foundation have been phenomenal to work with and we’re so excited to use these funds to help students and save lives.”
Maccarone, who co-founded Who We Play For after losing his 15-year-old son to sudden cardiac arrest, has served and supported the organization for more than a decade. He earned the most online votes from a pool of volunteers, including: Dan Majetich of Nick and Kelly Children’s Heart Fund, Tammy Garrett of Rapahope Children’s Retreat Foundation of Alabama and Tracy Williams of Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation. Together, the group of finalists have impacted more than 100,000 children through their 81 combined years of service. Each of these organizations has earned a $25,000 donation from The NASCAR Foundation in recognition of their nominated volunteers’ achievements.
“Ralph has dedicated his life to ensuring young people receive the proper screenings that could one day save their lives,” said Nichole Krieger, Executive Director of The NASCAR Foundation. “He has spent countless hours volunteering at screenings, fundraising and advocating for change as Who We Play For has grown into a national organization that’s reaching more communities each year. His work and the work of all of our finalists exemplify the lasting legacy of Betty Jane France and the countless number of children The NASCAR Foundation continues to impact.”
Maccarone co-founded Who We Play For in 2012 with the vision to inspire and empower schools, sports clubs and communities to provide heart screenings for all student athletes and students. Through his work, Maccarone has helped bring Who We Play For to many regions across the country as he has advocated for sudden cardiac arrest legislation on the local, state and federal level. With the $100,000 award, Maccarone hopes to bring heart screening events to more NASCAR communities over the next two years.
Aside from his service, Maccarone has been a fan of NASCAR after first being introduced to the sport by his wife, Valerie. He and his son started following Ryan Newman after discovering the driver shared the same birthday as his son.
In its 12 years, The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award has recognized 48 NASCAR fans who are dedicated volunteers working for children’s causes in communities nationwide. More than 475,000 children’s lives have been affected by the program with $2 million contributed to children’s charities.
To learn more about The NASCAR Foundation’s programs, including the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and Speediatrics Children’s Fund, please visit NASCARfoundation.org.