Cody Byrne’s attended the Michigan NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Michigan. He wanted to see his favorite driver, Carl Edwards, race. Cody and his parents saw Edwards, who was walking by, and gave him the thumbs up. Cody, who is a wheelchair bound teenager, was just excited to see Edwards. What happened next is the stuff of movies. Edwards, seeing the flag on the back of Cody’s chair, walked over to him and said ‘Hey buddy, I’ll tell you, if I win that trophy today, now that’s if I win, I’ll give you that trophy.’ I can only imagine how excited Cody was. He and his parents realized that Edwards had a good chance to win because he went 27th to first in about sixty laps. Edwards did win the race. He signed the trophy ‘NGU’ for ‘never give up.’ Cody has that trophy now.
Most of the drivers in this sport are like that. They get rough and rowdy on the track, but when it comes to children and the fans in general, they are very generous. Tony Stewart has donated or raised millions of dollars for the Petty’s Victory Junction Gang Camp-a place that I can personally say is tremendous. The camp is for children who are chronically ill. It takes millions to run the camp each year and NASCAR and it’s corporate sponsors have been more than generous. My son, who has an immunodeficiency condition, had the opportunity to go to the camp several times. We have attended family weekends there and the place is truly remarkable. It is sad, too. One little girl, that we had the pleasure of meeting, attended the camp the same year that my son first went there. She was just a joy. She did not make it the next year. Sadly, her condition was just too much to overcome has she passed away. Her mother wrote the camp and thanked them and said it was the most enjoyable time the girl had had in years.
Victory Junction is just one of the many worthy causes the drivers, NASCAR and the sponsors get behind. Most of the drivers have established a foundation that takes care of the donations and money they raise. They help organizations to find abandoned pets new homes, wildlife habitats, bone marrow and more. They not only give money, but also time. They have precious little time as it is, yet they find time to raise money, make appearances at hospitals, Victory Junction and other places. Like them or not, they are amazing people.