Throughout each NASCAR season there are days that fans and drivers mark on their calendar with great anticipation. Some of these days end up defining a driver's season and their chances at the title, while some of these days transcend motorsports.
For that reason, I have always been drawn to The NASCAR Foundation and their annual NASCAR Day, which is one of those latter days. Every year I look forward to participating on the special day in whatever capacity I am able. That's why when this year's NASCAR Day "10 Days of Giving" tour was announced, I jumped at the opportunity to help out.
Although I currently do not have my own charity, as many NASCAR drivers do, I know that I want to start one at some point in my career. One of the biggest challenges I'm facing, though, is what my charity would benefit as I'm passionate about so many causes.
As many race fans who have followed my career know, I started racing when I was 12 years old. My first full-time season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was in 2009, and three years later I celebrated my first series championship after a down-to-the-wire battle with runner-up Timothy Peters. One thing I have noticed through all of these experiences is that my desire to give back and associate myself with organizations that help those who are less fortunate has grown.
I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the foundation and their numerous partnering organizations, especially during the tour. What I found so unique about this year's NASCAR Day celebration was that it wasn't confined to only one day, but rather spread out over the course of 10 days and directly impacted kids across the U.S.
Family has always been one of the most important things in my life, and my wife, Kris, and I are hoping to start our own family later this year. We are currently going through the process to adopt a child and look forward to meeting our baby soon. Because of this connection and the knowledge that I will soon be a doting father, I felt strongly about many of the activities and organizations the tour touched as so many of them deal directly with children.
Among the many great organizations The NASCAR Foundation partnered with during the tour, one of the charities I enjoyed learning about was Joshua's Friends Foundation in Winston-Salem, N.C. One of my favorite activities I enjoy doing during time off is riding bikes, and it was great to learn that The NASCAR Foundation and the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma partnered with Joshua's Friends Foundation and three other organizations to surprise kids at a local school and the charity with 100 bike helmets.
Another charity acknowledged during the tour is The Stephanie Decker Foundation whose mission is to assist children in need of prosthetics and to help others gain access to leading-edge prosthetics. Stephanie Decker's story resonated with me. Decker lost both her legs after protecting her three children during a 2012 tornado that leveled their home. As I prepare to enter a new stage in my life - fatherhood - I'm starting to think more about courageous acts such as this that parents often selflessly perform, and I'm truly amazed by their acts of heroism.
It is because of organizations like these that I am proud to work with The NASCAR Foundation, and look forward to doing so for many years.