With the news that they'd be transferring Shane Hmiel from Indianapolis Methodist Hospital in Indiana to Charlotte Memorial Centre in North Carolina, Hmiel's mom Lisa declared for Hmiel supporters that November 4th is "Shane Hmiel - Racing to Recovery Day".
During the weeks of late, people have opened their eyes in many ways to what happened to Hmiel and have offered their support, hoping for a full recovery. In case you've missed it, here's a recap of everything from the beginning.
In 2006, a lot of people may remember that Hmiel was suspended from NASCAR for life due to a third failed substance abuse test. A lot of people stuck that the story ended there in their minds, he’d screwed up. Now in interviews that Hmiel has done since, he hasn’t denied making that mistake and actually he has said that it’s made him a better person, though I’ll get to that later.
The story continues past that, though, as Hmiel fought his way back into racing.
Personally, I feel the road beyond where most stopped following him is an inspirational road that everybody, race fan or not, should hear and learn from.
Through his struggles and comeback, Hmiel has shown qualities of strength and the ability to not back down from a challenge that in exchanged has shown inspiration to others.
Once he received the lifetime ban, things began to change as he took charge of the situation and started back through his inspirational road back to where he is now. Following the suspension, he checked himself into a drug rehab center and decided to fix the problem.
During his time in rehab, he discovered that there was a medical issue that he had that part of the issue. At that time, he learned that he had bipolar and in a sense, had been self-medicating himself since the age of 12. Now, right there was a scapegoat that he could’ve used and said, “Oh, it’s due to this illness I have that I have done this.” Though, in the contrary, he stood up and said it was his fault his own for what he’d done and he’d face the music.
Once he had gotten clean, Hmiel went forth and looking for any opportunity he could get to get back behind the wheel. In his mind, it didn’t matter what level, as along as he was back doing what he wanted to do. At the time of trying to find that spot to race again, there were a lot of people who said he didn’t deserve to have that chance as, he’d blown it before and it was an opportunity that others should get.
In my opinion, for him to go ahead and look for that chance while people were talking showed his inner strength. It didn’t matter at that moment as he was going to do what he wanted.
Hmiel got back racing through late models and then after finding some connections, he got the chance to go USAC Racing. He showed the qualities that I personally love about him again at that point as he stated that he’d be welcome to the opportunity, but would understand if he was turned down as a result of his past decisions.
This year, Hmiel had a good year as he won six races and won the USAC Silver Crown Pavement Championship. Over the years he has ran the USAC schedule, he has shown his growth as a driver as his finishes have improved and he has gained respect from fellow competitors. It has helped that he took time to listen to the advice of the veterans, which I applaud him on as he could’ve took the road that he was better than them.
Through this entire journey, I consider it to be an inspirational road as it shows someone who fought back and didn’t let a hole in the road stop him. He also shows inspiration as he isn’t afraid to hide what happened, always willing to face it and not hide it to the side.
In reading an article titled The Real Deal, Hmiel completely opens up about everything and doesn’t back down from topics surrounding it. A quote near the end that sticks out in my mind is when the author asks him whether it matters to him what others say.
“I am sure there are a lot of people who doubt me,” he said. “But, I made my bed. I’ll lay in it. They have a right to say whatever they want. Have I been judged? Yes! Am I starting to win some of those people over? I hope. Do I care? No….I mean, I do want people to like me, but at the end of the day, I want everybody to know that I will do whatever it takes to win the race.”
He certainly has proved he’ll do whatever it takes throughout this journey. Plans had been set in place for him to run the full 2011 IndyCar Lights schedule for former Indy Racing League regular Tyce Carlson.
Plans though have been changed and are now focused directly on him recovering as on October 10th, Hmiel was injured in a serious USAC crash during qualifying. Hmiel flipped in turns three and four, with the top of the roll cage bouncing off the wall.
Since the crash, Hmiel had four separate surgeries, fought through pneumonia and he started physical therapy a couple days ago.
The first surgery was for a broken neck while the second surgery was for a broken back. The third and forth surgery was for a torn artery in his neck.
The latest updates look positive as Hmiel continues to recover with things continuing to get better as days past.
To read through the entire recovery process, the article links are posted below with the information throughout the entire process, including quotes from Hmiel's father Steve Hmiel. Steve Hmiel, who is currently the Director of Competition at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, offered his thoughts in three seperate interviews on his son's progress.
For continued updates down the road, check out the "Shane Hmiel - Racing to Recovery" page on facebook where updates are posted daily by the family.
For the "Racing to Recovery" Day, fans are encouraged to show their support by displaying the "Racing to Recovery" decals and wearing their t-shirts and hoodies. Fans are also encouraged to get their friends behind the cause and help to raise money for the family to pay medical expenses.
In an effort to help with raising money for the medical expenses, there are lots of different deals going on.
USAC is selling the Racing to Recovery decals at $5 (including shipping) on their website with all funds going directly to the family. Also, for every new fan that joins the USAC fan page on Facebook before Dec. 31, USAC will donate 10 cents to the family.
RWB Motorsports is also helping to raise money by selling the 2010 Shane Hmiel t-shirts via their website for $25 (including shipping), with all the funds going to the family. They all recently started selling the hoodies, which are the same design as the t-shirt, for $45 (including shipping), also with funds going to the family.
Fans who wish to make a direct donation may write a check to BENEFIT OF SHANE HMIEL and send it to: Steve Pruett, 700 St. John Street, Suite 300, Lafayette, LA 70501.
Electronic donations can be made and information about the up-coming fundraiser being done can be found at: http://raiseforshane.bbnow.org.
Update 11/4/2010 4:53PM
As per the latest update posted, Hmiel has landed in Charlotte and is headed over to the hospital. Hmiel flew from Indiana to Charlotte earlier today with his father Steve while his mom Lisa waits for them in Charlotte.
Shane Hmiel "Road to Recovery" Article Archive
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