When you think of NASCAR drivers, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
A polarizing presence behind the wheel of a 3400 lb. stock car, who, along with 42 other drivers, skillfully pilot their machines around tracks of varying distances and speeds 36 weeks out of the year?
Someone who has an inclination and desire to increase the well-being of humankind through charitable aid?
The truth is many of today’s drivers are both. They dedicate their time off the track to raise funds and awareness to charities that are close to their hearts. Many of our favorite drivers recognize that they have achieved their dreams and goals and in turn are assisting others to reach their own.
One of the finest examples of how devotion to driving and giving back to community go hand-in-hand, comes from Tony Stewart.
As a devoted philanthropist, Stewart, who formed The Tony Stewart Foundation in 2003 with a goal to raise funds that are primarily geared to groups involving chronically ill children, drivers injured in motorsports activities and organizations dedicated to the protection of various animal species, also assists his primary sponsor’s charitable arm, The Office Depot Foundation.
In keeping with its mission, Listen Learn Care, the Office Depot Foundation supports a variety of programs that help children succeed in school and in life; enable civil society (non-profit) organizations to become more efficient and effective; help people and businesses prepare for disasters, then recover and rebuild afterwards; strengthen local communities through grants, product donations and volunteerism; and encourage community development through entrepreneurship and economic innovation.
Thanks in part to the driver’s dedication to giving back to his community, Stewart and his mother, Pam Boas were recently recognized with the organization’s highest honor: the “Listen Learn Care Award.”
Stewart, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, assisted the Office Depot Foundation last summer in donating its two-millionth backpack since the inception of the National Backpack Program in 2001.
The Indiana native personally presented backpacks filled with essential school supplies to children in need during “Back-to-School Backpack Celebration” events in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Indianapolis and Kansas City.
“It’s a great honor to receive the Office Depot Foundation’s ‘Listen Learn Care Award,’ especially alongside my mom,” Stewart said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish my dream of driving race cars for a living, and my mom always supported me in that goal. It means a lot to both of us to be able to give back and help others—especially kids—as they work hard toward achieving their dreams, too.”
Boas, a board member of the Tony Stewart Foundation, assisted in donating more than 5,500 backpacks to a number of groups that the organization traditionally supports. These groups included the Bartholomew School District in Columbus, Ind., Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis and several summer camp programs for children who are ill or have other special needs.
“These awards recognize not only what the recipients have accomplished, but also their vision, their dedication and their persistence,” says Office Depot Foundation President Mary Wong. “We are honored that Tony and Pam have shown such great confidence in the work of our foundation and look forward to partnering with them for many years to come.”
The Listen Learn Care Awards were presented during the Foundation’s “Weekend in Boca” Civil Society Leadership Symposium, which attracted more than 125 representatives of non-profit organizations, government and businesses to Boca Raton for sessions focused on helping non-profits enhance the impact they make in their communities.
To learn more about the Office Depot Foundation, the National Backpack Program and its other initiatives, visit www.officedepotfoundation.org .
Photos Courtesy of Edelman/Office Depot.