NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones has established his own charitable foundation, with the Byron, Michigan-native announcing the Erik Jones Foundation at the Back to the Bricks event Friday night in downtown Flint ahead of the NASCAR race weekend at Michigan International Speedway.
The goal of the Erik Jones Foundation is three-fold: ignite children’s passion for reading, encourage early cancer detection and care and promote animal welfare. All hold special meaning for Jones.
The 25-year-old racer is an avid reader and has been since childhood. Fans of Jones and Richard Petty Motorsports likely know that already, given Jones’ penchant for reading books to his social media followers.
— Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) August 17, 2021
— Erik Jones (@Erik_Jones) August 13, 2021
Cancer detection and care have been a priority for Jones since his father, Dave, succumbed to the disease in 2016. And animal welfare is paramount, as Jones has grown up with pets, with his German Shepherd, Oscar, regularly by his side.
“The experiences I’ve had growing up shaped what my Foundation is about,” Jones said in a press release. “I really enjoy reading, but with all the technology kids have available to them today, the joy of just sitting down with a good book is getting lost. I want to change that. Obviously, losing my dad to cancer was hard – and it still is – but it’s made me so mindful of how important early detection is, because the sooner you diagnose it, the more options you have for treatment. And I do love animals, and all the pets I’ve had meant a lot to me. I want to do what I can to ensure they’re enjoying healthy and happy lives, too.
“These three aspects of my Foundation might seem different, but they all came together when my dad was battling cancer. Getting lost in a book and having a pet who seemed to understand what you were going through was like therapy. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, and I’m lucky enough to be in a position in my life where I can help others. That’s what my Foundation is about.”
The Foundation’s first gift was a donation to the Genesee District Library, a public library system serving the residents of Genesee County, Michigan, with 19 locations. The reading theme will continue Sunday at Michigan, where prior to the FireKeepers Casino 400 at the 2-mile oval, Jones will read M is for Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet by Annie Appleford, to kids and their families at the Graves Family Campground at 10:30 a.m.
It is an extension of Jones’ #READwithErik series, which began last spring when COVID-19 forced NASCAR to take a 10-week break and schools transitioned to remote learning. Jones saw an opportunity to share his passion for reading, and the first #READwithErik event took place on April 21, 2020 when he sat down in front of a camera and read Dr. Seuss’ iconic Oh, The Places You’ll Go via his Facebook page. Since its debut, #READwithErik has featured 25 books with more than 130,000 views.
“COVID made life tough for everyone, but kids especially. They couldn’t go to school and see their friends, and normal things like getting together at the cafeteria table all of a sudden just went away. I wanted to do something to try and make that a little bit better, and that’s how our virtual reading circle came together. I’m actually really looking forward to getting back to doing it in person this Sunday at Michigan,” Jones said.
Those wishing to make tax-deductible contributions to the Erik Jones Foundation can do so via the following address:
Erik Jones Foundation
370 E. Maple Road, 4th Floor
Birmingham, Michigan 48009