Three members of the NASCAR community have been named finalists for the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award.
The award recognizes the philanthropic efforts of a race team member.
The finalists are:
* Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 78 Chevrolet SS in the Sprint Cup Series.
* Joey Gase, driver of the No. 52 Ford Mustang in the Xfinity Series.
* Martha Nemechek, whose son Joe and grandson John Hunter Nemechek, compete in the Camping World Truck Series.
“Comcast works hard to make a positive impact in the local communities where our employees and customers live and work, and that philosophy is now embedded into our partnership with NASCAR,” said Matt Lederer, Executive Director of Sports Marketing at Comcast.
“We are proud to have Martin Truex Jr., Joey Gase and Martha Nemechek as finalists for the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award,” Lederer added. “They embody the spirit of the award through their dedication to community service and we look forward to highlighting their causes through the award process.”
The Champion of the Year will be determined by executives from Comcast, The NASCAR Foundation, NASCAR on NBC analyst Kyle Petty and NASCAR.com reporter Holly Cain.
Comcast will make a donation of $60,000 to the Champion of the Year’s affiliated charity. An additional $30,000 apiece will be made to each of the remaining two finalists’ designated charity.
“Comcast has done a great job of coming in and viewing the sport in its totality,” Petty said. “Not just what they can get out of it, but what they can give back to it and how they become a part of the fabric of NASCAR.
“I think that’s what the Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award encompasses – the giving spirit that has always been a big part of NASCAR.”
The winner will be announced Nov. 23 at the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series Banquet in Hollywood, Florida. The banquet will air on NBCSN at 7 pm on Sunday, Nov. 29.
The 2015 Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists are:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, New Jersey) and long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex launched the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation in 2007 with the goal of raising funds and awareness for children suffering from poverty, abuse and illness – specifically pediatric cancers. The foundation continued to grow over the next eight years, providing significant assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and building a pediatric emergency care center in Truex’s home state of New Jersey. In August 2014, Pollex was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. Through this experience, the couple was inspired to expand their fundraising efforts and change the foundation’s mission to include a range of underfunded cancer initiatives specific to childhood and ovarian cancers. In 2015, the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation began a three-year partnership with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina to assist in finding breakthrough treatments specific to pediatric cancers. Every day, Truex sports a bracelet encompassing his personal motto as well as the Foundation’s inspiration: Never Give Up.
NASCAR Xfinity Series:
Joey Gase (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) lost his mother Mary Jo to a brain aneurysm when he was just 18 years old. Since she was not married at the time, Gase was faced with the decision of whether or not she would want to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor. Later on, he found out that the decision he made to donate his mother’s organs helped save and improve the lives of 66 people. Overwhelmed by the impact, Gase sought opportunities to promote donation through the local organ procurement organizations (OPO) in each state. Throughout the past few years, he has been able to use his platform as a NASCAR driver to host meet-and-greets with families who have been impacted by organ donation, visit children who have been hospitalized, promote organ donation through sharing his story at high schools, and more. At just 22 years old, his efforts have already produced great dividends. Gase often has people reach out to let him know that had it not been for his story, they never would have thought to sign up as an organ donor.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series:
Martha Nemechek (Mooresville, North Carolina) lost her son John Nemechek to complications from head injuries sustained in an accident during a 1997 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the months following the death of her 27-year old son, she was inconsolable until Nemechek received a call from Gordon Collins, a stranger empathizing with her grief, that she was able to channel into a driving force for helping those in similar situations. For the past 18 years, Nemechek has given her heart to many causes, including the exchange of supportive emails with U.S. troops in Iraq, assisting cancer patients with their wishes to meet NASCAR drivers, maintaining her World Prayer List, feeding the underprivileged, and much more. Her priority, however, is reaching out to parents who have lost children – especially those within the racing circuit. Those impacted by her efforts are amazed at Nemechek’s willingness to open up in an area that is painful for her to relive, but she is driven by her desire to reach out. The way she puts it is simple: once she began giving back, Nemechek felt like she was living again.