From all walks of life, the four finalists for the 2018 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award all have a similar thread that runs through them – the burning desire to help.
And specifically, the desire to help children — just like Betty Jane France herself.
The four finalists, announced Sunday at Kansas Speedway, give themselves in various ways, from cuddling hospitalized newborns in the NICU; to being stewards for housing services for the families of critically ill children; to managing a horse farm that provides free, transformative camp experiences to children with serious illnesses; to representing area Boys & Girls Clubs.
One of them, via fan vote, will be named the eighth recipient of the prestigious award given by The NASCAR Foundation and one that honors the memory and the philanthropic legacy of the foundation’s late founder, Betty Jane France.
“This year’s stellar group of finalists consists of loyal longtime NASCAR fans who also are outstanding people,” The NASCAR Foundation Chairman Mike Helton said in a press release. “Each of these individuals demonstrates, on a daily basis, true commitment and passion for their causes. Their good works are exactly the sort of volunteerism Betty Jane France wanted to spotlight, when the award was created.”
More on the finalists:
• Carl Dakes of Harwood, Maryland, an 18-year volunteer representing the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, Inc. of Catonsville, Maryland. The foundation provides hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families.
• Sarah Kersey of Dublin, Ohio, a cancer survivor who represents Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio. The facility, where Kersey has served as a volunteer since 2010, provides transformative camp experiences for children with serious illnesses, at no cost.
• Cliff Preston of Gainesville, Florida, representing UF Health Shands. He has volunteered for more than 25 years as a “cuddler” to soothe hospitalized newborns in the NICU during a parent’s absence.
• Rex Reynolds of Hazel Green, Alabama, representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama. Reynolds grew up participating in club programs and has now served in a volunteer role for 13 years.
All four finalists took part in activities during the race weekend at Kansas Speedway. The award honors NASCAR fans who are also accomplished volunteers working for children’s causes in their communities throughout the United States.
The winner will be determined via an online fan vote today through Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. (ET) at NASCARfoundation.org/Award. The winner will be announced on Nov. 29 during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas. The NASCAR Foundation will donate $25,000 to the charities represented by the award finalists, with the winner’s charity receiving a $100,000 donation.
Since the award’s inception, The NASCAR Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 260,000 children by providing more than $1.2 million in contributions to charities represented by finalists for the award.
Stories on each finalist will be posted on NASCAR.com throughout the coming week.