Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A greater responsibility

Most Racecar Drivers do it - However, Jeff Gordon does it really well!  This is one of the reasons, NASCAR #24 is one of NASCAR Race Mom's favorite drivers!

What Gordon recalls from his first championship, in 1995, might surprise you.

“I realized right away you don’t have this kind of success on your own,” Gordon said. “A lot of people behind the scenes make it happen, and you have to remember that.

“You have a greater responsibility in life than just driving a race car. And that’s a good problem to have. It’s a greater weight on your shoulders, but I think it’s why certain people get put in that position. They need to be tested or they can handle it.”

In 1999, he established the Jeff Gordon Foundation. In 2011, it became the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation.

The focus is on research and support for children and families dealing with pediatric cancers. Since its establishment, the foundation has raised $13.5 million. In the past several years, the foundation has made donations in the United States and Africa totaling almost $5 million.

“Jeff is incredibly passionate about this,” said Trish Kriger, executive director of the JGCF. “This will not be something he ever walks away from. He’s been blessed with two healthy, wonderful children.

“But he sees so many kids who have the same story. One day they’re playing. The next day, they don’t feel quite right. The third day, they go to the doctor. The fourth day, they have cancer. He knows lives can change on a dime.”

Gordon also knows the United States is not the only place where children and their families are affected by cancer. His foundation has taken an active role in Africa, especially Rwanda.

“Over here (in the United States), the rates for remission are really growing, in the 80 percent range,” Gordon said. “We can focus on the long-term effects of those treatments as well as the 20 percent or so that aren’t curable, yet.

“The thing about Rwanda, as well as many other countries in Africa, is the impact you can have. A dollar goes so much further there. And when someone is being treated with a mild pain reliever for a very severe illness, especially cancer, that’s not right. Over there, we can prevent deaths. That’s hard to find, hard to do, yet over there it’s not, and we should be doing it.”

The families in need of help and hope and the work done by doctors and scientists on curing pediatric cancer never are far from his thoughts.

“There are days when I feel really good, and I have people patting me on the back and telling me what great things I’m doing,” Gordon said. “And I’m meeting families whose children went to a hospital we support and whose lives were saved. That feels really good.

“But as long as there’s one child dying, and unfortunately a lot more than that are, we’re not doing enough.”

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