NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray is mourning the death of his niece, Lauren Montez, who passed away Sunday.
Montez, who suffered from autism, had inspired McMurray to raise funds and call awareness to the condition.
McMurray issued the following statement on his personal web page:
“I would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the friends and fans for the thoughts and prayers to our family, following the loss of my niece Lauren.
“Lauren was the inspiration behind my becoming involved with Autism awareness and the work that we have done through the Jamie McMurray Foundation with Autism Speaks.
“My sister Trisha (McMurray-Montez, Lauren’s mother) and our entire family appreciate the respect of privacy during this difficult time.”
The cause of death has not been revealed.
In lieu of cards or flowers, donations can be made in honor of Lauren Montez to the Jamie McMurray Foundation – 130 Infield Court, Mooresville, NC 28117 or online at www.jamiemcmurray.com/foundation.