Thursday, July 28, 2011
A Drag Race to Remember
Over the course of my several years of working for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, I have had the opportunity to travel to a countless number of lemonade stands and events. They have all been unique and inspiring, but I have to say that attending the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver, Colorado July 22-24, 2011 was certainly a one-of-a-kind experience.
Having been invited to attend the competition by TBC Retail Group, a long-time sponsor of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, I arrived in Denver on Thursday, July 21, just in time to visit The Children’s Hospital in Aurora. It was there that I would first meet Johnny Gray, the driver of the “Lemonator” Funny Car. Johnny’s car, which is sponsored by TBC, is decked out in an ALSF design that was voted on by fans on facebook. Though I confess to not knowing much about the drag racing world, it was an honor to meet Johnny and I soon learned of not only his generosity, but the generosity of the entire team which included Shane Gray (Johnny’s son) and Dom Lagana. Thus began my adventure into the NHRA world.
I should also mention that TBC has been supporting ALSF throughout the entire month of July with a grassroots fundraising effort in their stores across the country. Many have held lemonade stands, and TBC is matching up to $25,000 during its Text to Donate campaign.
On Friday, it was on to the Bandimere Speedway where I would be immersed in the world of drag racing, as well as a sea of ALSF signs urging fans to text Cancer TBC to 85944 to make a $5 donation. It was amazing to see how the racing community embraced the battle against childhood cancer, and I’m pretty sure that whether you were a fan of Johnny Gray or not, you were routing for his “Lemonator” Funny Car all weekend.
For me, the support of the racing community was inspiring and with the ALSF branding everywhere I’m sure we garnered new supporters last weekend. I have to say that the most surprising, and perhaps even my favorite part of my visit though was when I had the opportunity to stand at the starting line for one of Johnny’s trials. To say that I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience is an understatement. When Johnny and his opponent’s cars took off from the finish line, the excitement was palpable – literally, my body shook as the cars sped down the track. I was told afterward that standing on the starting line is equal to feeling an earthquake with a 3.5 magnitude.
Soon, the weekend would come to a close and I was back on the plane to Philadelphia, left with an experience that I would never forget. In fact, I had such a great time, I’m looking forward to doing it all over again when Johnny and the entire TBC team come to Reading in September for the Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to experience everything all over again, and having the opportunity to invite some of our supporters to join me!
Stay tuned for more details.