Foundation Efforts Help Gordon Make a Difference
By David Caraviello - NASCAR.com
A certain four-time NASCAR champion bounds onto the stage wearing a suit with an open collar, a microphone in one hand, a set of note cards in the other. "Hello, I'm Jeff Gordon," he tells the crowd of about 100 people assembled in this downtown hotel ballroom, but introductions are unnecessary. Everyone knows who he is, and why he's here. The subject isn't auto racing, but about his other passion -- working to cure childhood cancer.
"Research and development is a big part of how we make our cars go faster," he tells the assemblage of donors and potential donors at this luncheon hosted by the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation. "But absolutely, this is life or death."
He works the crowd with ease, showing that degree of comfort under the lights that's earned him guest-hosting spots on daytime talk shows. He introduces a panel of guests that includes physicians and researchers and a mother who lost a child and became an activist. He rattles off statistics and urges participation. Most top drivers have charitable foundations, and many are very active in them, and they all do good things. But Gordon, it becomes clear during one afternoon, takes things to another level. To him this isn't a hobby, but a passion almost up there with driving the car.
"It's amazing how he's grown it, but it's also amazing how he makes it part of his life or part of his job," said Ray Evernham, the former crew chief who won three championships with Gordon. "It's like no big deal to him. He's given I don't know how many tens of millions and done a lot of these things, and to him, it's no big deal. I admire him, because there are so many people who talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. And this is a guy that does it. Instead of being out there preaching about doing the right thing, he does it."
Since its founding in 1999, Gordon's foundation has donated millions to...
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