The stands were full. A spring breeze softened the air. The trucks glistened under the lights and in the distance, the sun set in a giant orange ball. There are many times that we can say it was a perfect day for racing, and Saturday night at Darlington was certainly a fine example of that elusive combination of excitement and comfort, except for one thing. A world away a country was decimated, by nothing more than the destructive whim of our planet.
As much as I wished to enjoy my weekly dose of NASCAR, it was hard to settle into my chair and block out the images of walls of mud and water sweeping away entire villages, airports, roads, and bridges in mere seconds. And now, shown only in a distant shot, smoke billowed from nuclear reactors as the damage done from the earthquakes had obliterated even back-up systems for those power plants. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. The horror in Japan was so far away.
Then the camera panned over the pillar of one of the trucks during the pre-race. The Japanese flag appeared over a small set of text. The camera man closed in on a larger decal on the deck lid.
Text REDCROSS to 90999
Following the directions would donate $10 to the American Red Cross. I had something I could do, and as I thought on it, I realized how many times we see such decals appear on stock cars — how many people see these calls for aid from the viewership — and if we think about it — just how much good we, the NASCAR fans, are capable of bringing to the rest of the world.
The NASCAR Foundation often puts out the call through its various fundraising efforts. NASCAR Day 2011 is coming up faster than we realize. Do you have your pin? The Foundation has made a total of $11.5 million in donations to various charities in a mere five years. Maybe you’ve walked the track, wore a pin, bought a raffle ticket, a calendar. Just a small effort. How quickly the dollars accumulate into an amount that can have real impact on the world around us.
Or maybe a driver suffered severe injuries. Through the years I’ve seen decal after decal appear in hopes that good thoughts and the generosity of the racing community would come together and help one another through a trying ordeal. And we have. Words of gratitude often follow the gestures of good will.
The fact is I may be a small person who is far away from this latest international catastrophe, but I am part of something far greater which is full of open hearts.
I felt a little better after I sent off my donation. I had done something. A child, a family, a village would receive help, be it ever so small, and maybe just a little bit of hope. I wondered how many other fans did the same as I, but I think I know the answer. A great many.
Together we fill the stands and cheer for our heroes. Together we can also make a difference in the world around us, be it helping a racer through tough times, a child endure their cancer treatments or provide water and blankets for those who have lost all they have ever worked for.
That is perhaps the best reason to cheer of all.
TEXT 2 Help: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.
Visit http://nascarfoundation.com to help other NASCAR fans support various children’s charities.
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