Volunteers helped hand out Speedy Bears on Giving Tuesday

Giving back: The NASCAR Foundation’s ‘bear brigade’ brings smiles to kids across country

In the spirit of giving back to the community in the holiday season, The NASCAR Foundation hosted its second annual “Speedy Bear Brigade” on Tuesday, Nov.  27, a day designated as “Giving Tuesday.”

More than 60 volunteers across all NASCAR office locations and select NASCAR tracks delivered 1,000 Speedy Bears to children receiving treatment at 24 hospital locations across the country.

“The ‘Speedy Bear Brigade’ truly demonstrates the generosity of NASCAR Nation,” The NASCAR Foundation Executive Director Nichole Krieger said. “The bears we are providing will put smiles on the faces of so many children in the hospital and will hopefully ease some of the pain that they may be going through.”

Noah Gragson interacts with a child
Noah Gragson spent time at the Teddy Bear Clinic at Levine Children’s Hospital. | Photo via Tyson Winter

In addition to employee volunteers, several NASCAR drivers joined The NASCAR Foundation’s efforts, including NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Noah Gragson, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Jennifer Jo Cobb, NASCAR Next drivers Ryan Vargas and Anthony Alfredo and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West and NASCAR Whelen All-American Super Late Model Series driver Cassie Gannis.

“I’m really excited to be working with The NASCAR Foundation this week for Giving Tuesday,” Gragson said following his visit to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. “To be able to visit the children’s hospital and spend time with all the kids is a great experience. It is so cool to be able to see the smiles on their faces.

“Whenever I get to meet these great people at the children’s hospital, that brings a lot of happiness to me and really puts life in perspective. These children and families have been through a lot, and if I can help put a smile on their faces, then that’s the most important thing I can be doing.”

Volunteers from NASCAR’s headquarters in Daytona Beach, Florida, made several stops in conjunction with Halifax Health: the Speediatrics inpatient pediatric unit and pediatric emergency department, the Keech Neighborhood Health Clinic and Brooks Pediatric Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.

“We love when the Speedy Bear Brigade stops by to deliver Speedy Bears to our patients and their families. Speedy Bears bring so much comfort and joy to our patients,” said Amy Christie, pediatric nurse manager at Halifax Health. “They also serve as a great teaching tool prior to procedures. When a patient needs an I.V. and is scared to get one, but then sees their own Speedy Bear get one, too, it helps them to be a little less afraid to receive the care they need to get well.”

Ryan Vargas gives back
NASCAR Next driver Ryan Vargas was a big part of Giving Tuesday. | Photo by Jasmine Neely

The second annual Speedy Bear Brigade is organized through The NASCAR Foundation’s Speediatrics Children’s Fund, which supports needs expressed by hospitals, specialty clinics, camps and others providing children’s medical and health care services.

Additional participating locations in the Speedy Bear Brigade include: Chicagoland Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Dover International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Iowa Speedway, ISM Raceway, Kansas Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond Raceway, Road Atlanta, Sebring International Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway, Watkins Glen International and NASCAR offices in Charlotte, Concord, Daytona New York and Los Angeles.

To join the efforts, visit NASCARfoundation.org/GivingTuesday to make a contribution to further the organization’s efforts to bring smiles to children in the hospital.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. holds a patient
Photo courtesy of Sydnei Fryson