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In 1980, Don Post's life was forever changed when he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or "Lou Gehrig's Disease," and was told he only had three to five years to live. He retired from his professional job, and despite the ALS diagnosis, he embarked on a 33-year mission of donating his time and talent to charities in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Post has served on boards of directors and executive committees for a number of non-profit organizations, and mentored many young children diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He has been a member of the March of Dimes "Bikers for Babies" motorcycle ride committee for 12 years, and has been the event's chairman since 2010.
As winner of the 2013 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, Don Post received a $100,000 donation toward newborn health research, educational initiatives and community programs at the March of Dimes.
As The NASCAR Foundation launches the 2014 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award nomination process, we wanted to check in with Don to see how the experience has impacted him and the March of Dimes (and see below for more images).
Is there a memorable moment that you can share from your experience as a finalist?
The whole process was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, but being on that stage in Las Vegas with the France family and Maggie, a child who was directly impacted by the March of Dimes, would be really hard to beat.
The hundreds of giving and caring people I met during the voting process made me very aware of the goodness of people. From the other finalists I met to the NASCAR & NASCAR Foundation staff to the drivers I have admired all these years, it’s clear that they all want to help others.
Did you have an opportunity to see your donation in action?
My award funds are being used by March of Dimes to fund grants in the field of healthy full-term births and to provide support to parents of newborns. Each time I meet a child who was born too early and had to fight for their lives or each time I meet someone who lost a child, I see the benefit of the NASCAR Foundation donation.
The NASCAR Foundation invited a March of Dimes child to Las Vegas when I won the award. Maggie walked on stage with me when I accepted the trophy. Maggie was born on March 8, 2006, at 27 weeks, weighing only 2 lbs and 1 oz. She spent two months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with feeding tubes and IVs inserted in her tiny body helping her to stay alive. Along with getting excellent medical care, Maggie benefited from the research funded by March of Dimes that developed surfactant therapy which enables babies lungs to develop and function properly. I first met Maggie when she was just 6 months old. Her parents, Ken and Bridget, brought her to a March of Dimes Bikers for Babies event where I was volunteering. When I met Maggie, still with a nasal feeding tube, and heard all that she had gone through to survive, it made the mission of March of Dimes "real" for me. Maggie is now a healthy and happy 8-year-old. She proudly wears a patch on her leather vest identifying her as "Don's Maggie" and can be seen riding her own little motorcycle around Kansas Speedway where the Bikers for Babies event is held.
Can you share another moment where you saw the impact that March of Dimes has on children you meet?
March of Dimes had a Bikers For Babies booth at World of Wheels in Kansas City last month. We displayed the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award trophy and I had the pleasure of spending time in the booth. The trophy encouraged people to share their stories. Some were success stories and some were heart wrenching, but we were able to cry and laugh with folks.
One 7-year-old boy walked up and said thank you. I asked him, "thanks for what?" He said, "for my life", and then went on to explain that he was born early with a hole in his heart and through research the doctors were able to repair it.
Why would you recommend someone to apply or nominate an individual within their community for this award?
People who give of themselves deserve to be recognized even though they really don’t do it for recognition. It will change your life and theirs.