VOTE FOR A DESERVING HERO IN CROWN ROYAL CONTEST
April 28, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
RELATED: Vote for a deserving hero now
Learn more about these heroes and vote to honor one with naming rights to the Brickyard 400. Voting is allowed once per day and ends June 2.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER JAMES BAILEY
James Bailey, 33, of Pamplin, Va. is a Correctional Officer for the Virginia Department of Corrections. During his 12-hour shifts, Bailey strives to keep felons off the streets in addition to providing a safe environment for the inmates inside the walls. As a public safety figure, Bailey puts his life on the line for others without hesitation. He was nominated by his loving wife, Angela, who believes correctional officers do not receive enough credit for the sacrifices they make every day. Bailey goes to work with the hope that he’ll make a difference in the lives of those he’s around and if he can help promote change he feels as though he’s accomplished something in his career. Honoring his father as his personal hero, Bailey admires his hard work and tries to be the type of man he is. When his father suffered a heart attack in recent years, Bailey saved his life. Believing that each day is a blessing, he never takes life for granted and is thankful to have the opportunity to wake up and start a new day. An avid race fan, Bailey enjoys attending NASCAR races in his free time, especially watching his favorite driver Denny Hamlin, along with riding his Harley.
FIRE WARDEN BRYCE BOYER
Bryce Boyer, 49, from Wanship, Utah, has been the Summit County Utah Fire Warden for the past 11 years. When a devastating wildfire broke out near Rockport State Park, Boyer took the lead as incident commander and worked endlessly to suppress the fire. Boyer and his teams were able to contain the fire after it burned over 1,400 acres and destroyed 15 structures. In addition to fighting fires like these, he also works to organize and train fire personnel on fire tactics and safety, volunteers with the North Summit, South Summit, and Park City Fire District and as an emergency medical first responder – all in his spare time. Even though he has been nominated for Fire Warden of the Year three times, Boyer doesn’t fight fire for awards and recognition but does his job “to protect the county residents as much as possible.” As a finalist, Boyer is most excited to see his favorite NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart, on race day and to have the opportunity to tell people living in urban areas the importance of preparing for fires.
BRAIN INJURY AWARENESS ADVOCATE TARA HULETT
Tara Hulett, 32, of Albany, N.Y., works within her community to spread awareness of traumatic brain injuries in her father’s memory. In 2008, her father Kenneth Coons, an outdoorsman who loved to hunt and fish, was struck by a car as he was crossing the street to check out a new fishing spot. Kenneth suffered from a traumatic brain injury from the accident and spent weeks in primary and rehabilitation hospitals. This tragic incident inspired Hulett to honor her father by making others aware of brain injuries. She has worked with the Mayor of Albany to create Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Day on August 25, Kenneth’s birthday, beginning in 2008. She also started Fishing for Hope, a Facebook page with over 400 followers that helps inform people about traumatic brain injuries, and Grief Connect, a Facebook page to assist others in dealing with grief. In addition to bringing attention to brain injuries in her community, Hulett continually works with the Brain Injury Association of New York. Kenneth passed away in 2011 after being suddenly diagnosed with leukemia. Hulett and her family continue to honor his memory by participating in the Light the Night walk each year, collecting stuffed animals and donating them to the Leukemia Society, and collecting books to give to the Albany Tulip Queens Literacy campaign to give back to the Mayor for all he’s done to remember Kenneth.
UNITED STATES ARMY VETERAN JOHN WAYNE WALDING
John Wayne Walding, 32, of Little Elm, Texas, served in the United States Army for 12 years with seven of those years being in the 3rd Special Forces Group, completing tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. While overseas in 2008, Walding was involved in a fire fight during a mission to capture a high value target, during which he lost his lower right leg. After recovering from his injury, Walding was the first amputee to graduate Special Forces school. He completed the 2009 Boston Marathon and Army 10 miler, utilizing a hand cycle, within a year of the accident. Some of Walding’s awards and badges include the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantry Badge. Walding was honored to be nominated by his brother, as he considers it humbling validation each time someone hears about what he’s done for his country. One of Walding’s missions in life is to pass his torch on to the person behind him in an effort to help his fellow service men and women in the form of guidance. He helps former military members by employing them or providing direction to find their “North Star”, what Walding describes as their meaning in life after active duty service. A big NASCAR fan, Walding has never had the opportunity to go to a race and looks forward to attending the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 in July.
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE VETERAN TYLER WHISENHUNT
Tyler Whisenhunt, 28, of Gentry, Ark., served his country as a member of the United States Air Force 307th REDHORSE for six years beginning as an Airman First Class and making Technical Sergeant before being honorably discharged in 2013. Whisenhunt was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 to 2008 as lead vehicle operator of 81 missions, totaling 4,006 miles, which led to exposure of multiple combat encounters. One particular incident Whisenhunt suspected copper wires along the road that led to an IED. Four fellow Airmen were dismounted in proximity to the bomb and Whisenhunt aided in getting Airmen to safety inside the Humvee before the bomb detonated on the vehicle. Lucky to survive the blast, this tragic event inspired him to create and build armor for Humvees to prevent other Servicemen and Women from being injured. In addition, he put his engineering abilities to work to design and build protective shields for 5 remote control IED countermeasure systems, improving convoy IED defeat measures for 32 people. While deployed, Whisenhunt received a guitar as a gift and with the help of a team member he learned to play. The guitar became a staple item on missions, strapped to the top of the Humvee, it went everywhere with him and still enjoys playing that acoustic today. After he finished his tour in Iraq, Whisenhunt earned a four-year degree in Construction Management and worked his way into a Field Superintendent role at Nabholz Construction Services. In his free time, Whisenhunt enjoys sports, hunting, fishing and being with his family – his wife Amanda and two young daughters. On race days, he likes watching his favorite driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.