Jimmie Johnson's Helmet of Hope: A Charity That Keeps on Giving

Sal Sigala Jr.Senior Analyst IOctober 9, 2009

Whenever the name Jimmie Johnson is mentioned anywhere around a motorsports event, the first thought that usually comes to mind is that he drives the No. 48, Blue/Silver Lowe’s sponsored Sprint cup car for Hendrick Motorsports.

Johnson, who has also made a name for himself while winning his third championship in this elite racing series just last season, while becoming only the second driver to reach that goal by making it a three-peat.

Accomplishments are no stranger to this California native, especially when you take a look at his impressive list of races that he has won while racing in the NASCAR series finishing out his eighth year.

Johnson, can easily brag about his 2006 Daytona 500 win, or the three wins that he has at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he can also add to that list his two all-star wins along with his three championships.

What Johnson has managed to achieve so far is almost unheard of, and from the looks of things he is just going to get better as the years go by.

Accomplishments are what every driver strives for, but yet some Johnson’s biggest ones are not what happens behind the wheel of the 3,500-pound slab of metal, that he calls his home for three plus hours on race weekends.

Nor is it the 850 Sunoco thirsty horses, which he has to keep in check during that same time span.

But instead they come in the form of the countless hours of charity work that he and his wife Chandra spend during the season, as well as the offseason to make sure that the Jimmie Johnson foundation is continuing its humanitarian duties.

Jimmie Johnson started the foundation back in 2006, and its sole purpose is to assist those families, and communities, who are in need throughout the United States.

And so far to date, the foundation has raised over $1.9 million while helping such charities as the Victory Junction Gang, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Hendrick Marrow Program, The San Diego Habitat for Humanity, and the Tool Box for Education, which is also sponsored by Lowe’s.

Running a charity is not a very easy task, especially when it is your own, and you also have the driver duties that couple together with the longest running schedule in all of sports.

NASCAR, which is spread out over 36 of the 52 weeks that make up a calendar year, and that alone carries a lot of responsibility for all the drivers who are involved.

With some of those responsibilities ranging anywhere from sponsor commitments, to team meetings, and all the way into the race weekend itself just to name few that take up a lot of the drivers’ time.

And this weekend is no different, as far as Johnson’s driver duties are concerned, but he will carry one added responsibility.

Jimmie Johnson will once again be wearing a special helmet to go along with the special paint scheme during this weekend’s race which is named after his Helmet of Hope charity.

The Helmet of Hope charity, which Johnson first started last year, is a specially designed helmet that carries the names of 12 charities, which were chosen from a list of media as well as a fans list of submissions.

Each week, which started at Watkins Glen, Johnson drew one entry from the media list, and one from the fan list which lasted all the way through the race at New Hampshire a total of six weeks.

With each winning charity also receiving a $1,048 donation in addition to proceeds from the sale of a Helmet of Hope t-shirt.

“Chani and I are really excited about the great charities chosen for the Helmet of Hope this year,” said Johnson. “When we started the initiative we had no idea the positive response we’d get.

"It’s great that we can bring awareness to organizations across the country that are important to the fans and the members of this sport.”

The charities that are featured on his helmet are:

• Victory Junction (Randleman, NC)

• Zepp Children’s Foundation (Westminster, MD)

• National Multiple Sclerosis Society Mid Atlantic Chapter (Charlotte, NC)

• KidsPeace (Raleigh, NC)

• Special Operations Warrior Foundation (Tampa, FL)

• The Taylor Brooks Foundation (Lawrenceville, GA)

• Loaves & Fishes (Charlotte, NC)

• CureSearch (Bethesda, MD)

• Hendrick Marrow Program (Charlotte, NC)

• St. Baldrick’s Foundation (Pasadena, CA)

• Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)

• Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (Libertyville, IL)

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education also is featured on the helmet. The foundation is partnering with the Lowe’s program to raise funds for education initiatives in Johnson’s hometown of El Cajon, CA.

“With all the budget cuts that are happening, we felt that we could really help some schools out with additional funding,” said Johnson.

“Lowe’s Toolbox for Education is a great program. We are excited to partner with them to help identify programs where we can make the most impact.”

Johnson had this to say after the helmet was auctioned off for $27,000, with all proceeds going to his charity just this past Wednesday night.

“I rarely give away my helmets,” said Johnson. “I typically keep the helmets I race, but this one was pretty special to a lot of people with all the charities featured. We took it to victory lane last year and hopefully we’ll be able to do the same on Sunday.”

NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Boris Said and Casey Mears, along with former NFL player Jason Seahorn, joined more than 130 other guests for Wednesday’s golf tournament at The Grand Del Mar in San Diego.

What a way for the Johnson’s to kick off their second homecoming this season.

Not only did they get to spend time with family and friends, but they also got the chance to give back to a community that has given so much to them.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to do in the San Diego area, and Chani and I can’t wait to see what the funds will do to help local schools. Once again we are blown away by the support of our friends, sponsors and the San Diego community.”

A lot of time and effort goes into all the charities that our drivers participate in, and whether you like that driver or not its time to give each one that special recognition that they deserve.

Jimmie Johnson has not only proven that he is a champion on the track, but he is also a champion away from it, and sometimes it’s the latter that has the bigger impact.

Fans and supporters of the charities can order a t-shirt by visiting, www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org

A very special thanks goes out to Tara Gudger, Public Relations Representative for GM Marketing and HMS Racing for all of her help and correspondence.


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