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Weaver wins inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian award

December 04, 2011, Official Release, NASCAR.com



Weaver wins inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian award
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Talladega native volunteered to help deaf, blind students for more than 50 years

The NASCAR Foundation announced Friday that Robert Weaver, an 83-year-old Talladega, Ala., native, won the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The announcement was made by NASCAR Foundation founder Betty Jane France during the Sprint Cup Series awards ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas.

"There was a clear common thread with not only our finalists but every single one of our nominees," France said. "All of them had made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the last five years. There also was another important thread: All of our nominees love NASCAR.

"I have often said that I don't hit home runs; I just do little things. It is the little things that matter so much in people's lives."

--ROBERT WEAVER

"The fans have chosen Robert Weaver, a man who really personifies what this award is all about. It is a true honor to announce Robert as our inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner."

Weaver, who is known across the Talladega region as the "Ice Cream Man" because of the many treats he delivers to deaf, blind and multi-disabled students, received the most votes among four finalists during a nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.COM and the mobile voting site developed by Sprint.

"I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected the inaugural recipient of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and thank NASCAR, The NASCAR Foundation and the France family for making this possible," Weaver said. "I have often said that I don't hit home runs; I just do little things. It is the little things that matter so much in people's lives. As I look back over my own life, working with the children of Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind has been part of my calling -- it is why I was put on this earth. I encourage everyone to find something they are passionate about and commit to making a difference -- you're never too young or old to start."

As the winner of the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, Weaver received an expense-paid trip to Champion's Week in Las Vegas, a 2012 Ford Explorer from Ford and $100,000 for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation -- his children's charity of choice.

During his time in Las Vegas, Weaver joined the other Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists for the red carpet treatment leading up to the Sprint Cup Series awards ceremony. Some of the events they took part in included riding in a Ford Explorer driven by NASCAR president Mike Helton during the NASCAR Victory Lap event, where the top 12 Cup Series drivers paraded down The Strip, and taking pictures with Cup Series champion Tony Stewart at Wynn Las Vegas.

The award recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of selfless NASCAR fans, which is exemplified by Weaver's work. He has been volunteering with the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation for more than 50 years. In addition to his monthly charitable endeavors, he dedicates 30 hours a week to helping children in the organization. His many contributions range from creating intramural basketball teams and bowling programs to teaching students how to ride tricycles. Also a passionate NASCAR fan, Weaver once was able to pair his hobby and his volunteer work when his favorite driver, Darrell Waltrip, hosted the AIDB's annual fundraiser in 1986 -- thanks to a request from Weaver himself.

The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award honors the passionate commitment France has demonstrated on behalf of charities and community works throughout her life. France, the mother of NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France, is credited with creating the Speediatrics concept, a pediatric unit with a racing-themed décor at both the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla.

The other three finalists for the award were 17-year-old St. Louis resident Jake Bernstein; Patty Aber from Middletown, N.J.; and Columbus, Ohio, native Brenda Doner. All three received $25,000 donations to apply to a children's charity of their choice, as well as expense-paid trips to Las Vegas for Champion's Week.

The four finalists were selected by The NASCAR Foundation board of directors from hundreds of applicants who all made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the past five years.

The NASCAR Foundation is currently taking nominations for the 2012 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The nomination application can be downloaded here. The deadline for nominations is Thursday, May 31, 2012.