A friendship motivates Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalist Logan Houptley
RELATED: All the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists A friendship made a decade ago has endured -- and endeared, creating a heartwarming story. Logan Houptley and Mikayla Resh, children when they met, now are young adults who have a special bond that has led to the formation of a special cause. At the age of 10, Houptley met Resh in his third-grade classroom after moving to a new school district in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. Resh was bravely facing the challenges presented by multiple disabilities that included brain damage, cerebral palsy, seizure disorder along with blindness and deafness. Houptley didn't see those challenges when he looked at Resh. Instead, he simply saw another child in need of compassion and kindness. Fellow classmates saw Resh in the same light. Collectively, they made sure she knew that she belonged . "I just found it so fascinating in third grade that the children who had grown up with Mikayla to that point already felt so comfortable with her and included her in the everyday life of the classroom," Houptley, 20, said. "I just took to that." That experience stuck with Houptley. How could it not? And so the friendship continued -- and continues still, along the way leading Houptley in 2010 to help found "Mikayla's Voice." The organization is dedicated to inspiring children and young adults to embrace individuals of all abilities, while championing cultural change by teaching communities about the importance of inclusion and acceptance. When Mikayla's Voice was founded, Houptley served as co-president of the Junior Board of Directors until 2015, when he became a member of the Board of Directors. Houptley, now living in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is proudly representing "Mikayla's Voice" as one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's 2016 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide. The award, which honors volunteers who work for children's causes in their communities, will be presented by France -- The NASCAR Foundation's Chairwoman Emeritus and founder – on Sept. 27 during The NASCAR Foundation's inaugural Honors Gala at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. The foundation will donate $100,000 to the charity represented by the award winner and $25,000 to each of the other three finalists' charities. The award winner will be determined via an online vote now underway and running through Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. (ET) at NASCAR.com/Award. Friends Mikayla Resh and Logan Houptley work on a finger painting together. Houptley always has been a strong advocate for Resh and other children facing similar challenges. As a founding member of "Mikayla's Voice," Logan has spoken at national conventions about a book written on Resh's life, promoted inclusion in sports and recreation through "Tri for Inclusion" triathlons and led a fundraising efforts for the organization. Through books, school assemblies, recreational activities, cultural initiatives, and more, "Mikayla's Voice" demonstrates vividly the importance of inclusion. Approximately 25,000 children have been impacted by the organization's school assemblies; there have been 440 participants in Tri for Inclusion triathlons which pair able-bodied athletes with physically challenged athletes; and 14,000 children have been impacted by "Wheels of Friendship," an initiative that allows children to paint with the wheels of a wheelchair and the paws of service dogs. On Sunday, Houptley will attend the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway where he'll be cheering for his favorite driver, Tony Stewart, who is making his final start at Pocono. Most importantly, Houptley will be representing Mikayla's Voice, meeting with media and other fans to talk about inclusion and acceptance – and the friendship which continues to chart his personal course. "In terms of inclusion, I think we've made a big difference with 'Mikayla's Voice,' " Houptley said, "but in terms of the big picture, yes, we've made some strides there's still a long way to go. … I'm definitely in for the long haul as far as I can tell." To learn more about this year's finalists for The NASCAR Foundation's Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Presented by Nationwide, and to cast your vote today, go to www.NASCAR.com/Award . Voting is open now until Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. ET.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France , wife Amy honored at Angel Ball
Last night, while NASCAR Chairman Brian France and his wife Amy France were being honored for their contributions to pediatric cancer at the Angel Ball, the sport's first family could not help but think about a special day four months earlier. The Frances, through their Luke and Meadow Foundation, took child cancer survivors behind-the-scenes at Pocono Raceway in June. The courageous kids got to visit the garages before the race and hang out with their favorite drivers -- including six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson . As special as it must have been for those kids, it was also deeply moving for NASCAR's third generation chairman and his wife, who dedicated the race to cancer survivors. "As important as sports may sometimes seem, days like the one we had in June puts things in perspective and reminds us of what is truly important," Brian France said. "We were extremely humbled by last night's honor, but that is only icing on the cake compared to the difference we can make in the lives of children." Amy France was also touched when discussing the children's experience at the track. "As a parent, I was reminded that any of those children could have been my child or your child," Amy France said. "These are the moments that motivate me to contribute to cancer research. My hope is that my children, Luke and Meadow, will one day be inspired to be part of something beyond their own self-interests to make a real impactful change." The Frances, alongside supermodel and television host Heidi Klum, were honored by Gabrielle's Angel Foundation at the annual Angel Ball for their contributions to pediatric cancer research. The crowd was treated to musical performances from One Republic, Patti LaBelle and Billy Porter and many celebrities were on-hand, including Nick Cannon. Four-time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon gave a heartfelt introduction for Brian and Amy at the event. "I have known Brian since the start of my career which goes back nearly 25 years. Over that time he has become a close friend and someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for," Gordon said. "As the third generation Chairman of NASCAR, he is a bold, collaborative and visionary leader." NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Brent Dewar, International Speedway Corporation Chief Executive Officer Lesa France Kennedy, The NASCAR Foundation Chairwoman Betty Jane France and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ben Kennedy were in attendance. The Frances founded the Luke and Meadow Foundation, named after their 4-year old twins, in 2011 to raise awareness about charities they are passionate about. They have since supported, given their time and made multimillion dollar donations to a wide-range of causes including: Stand Up For Heroes in support of 9-11 families, Autism Speaks, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's research, Providence Day School and many others. "There are so many causes that need attention, but as parents, we are particularly passionate about addressing the critical needs of children," said Amy France . "At the end of the day, we just hope to be a part of something bigger than our own family, and we believe that -- in partnership with others -- we can make a real impact." With last night's brief pit stop in the rearview mirror, Brian France returns his focus to the remainder of the season. This weekend, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the final race of the Contender Round on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Following the race, four drivers will be eliminated and eight will remain in contention to be the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. NASCAR Chairman & CEO Brian France and wife Amy were honored at the Angel Ball on Monday night.
Brian and Amy France honored at Angel Ball
NASCAR Chairman Brian France and his wife Amy France were honored for their contributions to pediatric cancer at the Angel Ball in New York City.
Amy , Brian France support Parkinson's research
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and Amy France attend 'A Funny Thing Happened on The Way to Cure'
Amy , Brian France 'Stand Up for Heroes' with $300,000 donation
On the eve of Veterans Day weekend, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his wife Amy helped raise more than $6 million on Wednesday at "Stand Up for Heroes" in New York City in support of post-9/11 injured service members, veterans and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation. It was the latest in a long line of examples of NASCAR going beyond the call for America's troops. The Frances and another party bid and won a special auction with items and experiences from rock 'n roll legend Bruce Springsteen. The package includes a signed guitar and an hour guitar lesson from Springsteen, who also will provide a homemade lasagna dinner and a motorcycle ride in Springsteen's side car with "The Boss" driving. This year's event surpassed expectations, besting last year's record $5 million total. Springsteen helped raise $600,000 alone with the Frances and the other party committing $300,000 apiece to the Stand Up for Heroes Fund. NASCAR has a long track record of supporting the U.S. military, dating back to its roots. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. began a tradition that continues to this day of recognizing Medal of Honor winners before the July 4th race at Daytona International Speedway . In June, NASCAR marked the fifth anniversary of its Troops to the Track presented by Bank of America initiative. Thousands of troops from local military installations across the country have been treated to customized VIP experiences which include garage tours, driver meet-and-greets and recognition during the drivers' meeting, among many other special-access activities. "NASCAR: An American Salute" is an annual tribute to the men and women who fight for our freedom. Beginning Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte through Fourth of July weekend in Daytona, teams, sponsors, tracks, the sanctioning body and its stakeholders sport special red, white and blue paint schemes and host military members and their families throughout the summer. On this Veterans Day weekend as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Phoenix International Raceway , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will run the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 as veterans, active military members and their families will be honored throughout the weekend. Like every weekend on the NASCAR schedule, the patriotic pre-race ceremony will feature an honor guard, a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and a military flyover. "It's in our DNA," NASCAR President Mike Helton said, "to help military families understand how grateful we are and to encourage our fans to do the same thing; it's evolved with the sport. Bill France Jr. and certainly Bill ( France ) Sr. were adamant about NASCAR being a voice to remind everybody that there were men and women who were making sacrifices so that we had the opportunity to do the things that we enjoy. "And a lot of it had to do with the fact that ( France Sr.) created NASCAR right after World War II ... he had a very direct purpose behind it. "But that culture was passed on and handed down; as NASCAR grew, that responsibility grew with it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Brian and Amy France attend Parkinson’s event
Brian and Amy France as well as other celebrities talk about attending the Michael J. Fox Foundation event in New York City.
Brian France on NASCAR's framework, 2016 schedule
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Thursday that meetings about a potential franchise system for participation in its upper series have already taken place, sparking ongoing talks with its team owners about the direction of stock car racing competition. France made the remarks during an afternoon appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's "Tradin' Paint" program, telling hosts Jim Noble and Chocolate Myers that improving the current framework was crucial to the overall health of the sport. "Any time we can improve the structure for our team owners, that's a good thing," France told SiriusXM. "If we can improve their business model, we can improve their overall structure, then what's going to happen is new owners will be more inclined to look at wanting to participate in NASCAR; that's a good thing. The other good thing is, the level of competition goes up because the more healthy the team owners are, the better we're going to be. "We're working alongside of all the team owners to see what's possible, and we're going to have to go down the road and keep working at it. That's very important to us." France also discussed the soon-to-be-released schedules for all three NASCAR national series, saying that teams and fans alike should not expect a dramatic overhaul to the 2016 racing calendar. "I can tell you that the schedule is not going to change materially at all," France said. "There are things in the sanction agreements with the tracks that are unrelated to the dates that have to be worked out, and that's really what we're doing now. That's taking a little longer than normal. The schedule will look very similar." With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Myers pressed France for an accelerated release of the 2016 schedules on behalf of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who has expressed his wishes for a prompt announcement so that he might better plan his wedding to Amy Reimann. "I understand," said France , biting on the joke. "That does take precedence, so we'll make sure to put those dates right in front of him so he knows when they are." France also took time to assess the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the Challenger Round, the opening three-round series of the postseason. In doing so, France lauded last weekend's clutch victory by Kevin Harvick at Dover International Speedway that kept his repeat title hopes intact. "What you really are seeing is, this is the era of big moments and big performances," France said. "Being consistent and steady, that's important but that's getting pushed to the wayside. It's whoever can step up their performance."
Amy , Brian France : Passionate about worthy causes
NASCAR Chairman and CEO, wife cap off year of support
Junior, fiancée Amy visit Children's Hospital
Before heading to the track for opening Sprint Cup Series practice at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and fiancée Amy Reimann made a pit stop at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. . @DaleJr has arrived at @NationwideKids . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/YSsZnpa4jI — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 The children -- as well as another furry friend -- were certainly ready for Junior, who took pictures, signed autographs and interacted with the patients. Beck, @nationwidekids therapy dog is ready for @DaleJr 's visit today! #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/cMYo54IGeV — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/JgddhF0Pmz — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 . @DaleJr spends some time with our Patient Champion, Grant. #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/wR9atS0VOe — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 The children even had a few gifts -- including a wagon of goodies unveiled by Beck the dog -- for Reimann and Earnhardt, who will carry Nationwide Children's Hospital on his No. 88 Chevrolet this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. RELATED: See Earnhardt's special scheme for Kentucky Carson is a sweetheart and gave @Amy_Reimann at @nationwidekids . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/jbQTbXSFj4 — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 . @nationwidekids patients & associates with a special good luck messages for 8️⃣8️⃣ team this weekend at @KySpeedway pic.twitter.com/fQPz4WdZUh — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 Beck presents @DaleJr and @Amy_Reimann with a personalized wagon and gifts for the No. 8️⃣8️⃣ team. #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/dJRXT2gMi2 — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 But Junior wasn't going to let the gift-giving go unrequited on his end: he presented the children with their very own Victory Bell, similar to the one Hendrick Motorsports employees ring after each Sprint Cup Series win. . @DaleJr presents @nationwidekids with a Victory Bell from @TeamHendrick . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/d7UEaPx1KM — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 . @DaleJr presented to @nationwidekids ! View the creation in 1️⃣3️⃣ photos. : https://t.co/m0jkranLIq pic.twitter.com/RGCONkZ5Gz — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) July 7, 2016 The hospital also unveiled the special hood for Junior's No. 88 ride. Dr. Allen unveils @DaleJr 's @Nationwidekids hood for this weekend at @KySpeedway . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/ywFneRcH5p — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 Before Earnhardt departed, he was challenged to a Wii rematch by patient Maddie, who faced off against Junior during his visit last year. Video game rematch between @DaleJr and Maddie at @Nationwidekids . #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/6hSJly5cXz — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 Now, Junior is off to the race track -- but he'll have plenty of cheerleaders Saturday night. Thank you for spending the day with us at @nationwidekids . Headed to @KySpeedway now! #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/TkkKwzgRFj — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) July 7, 2016 . @Amy_Reimann and I had a fun and informative visit @nationwidekids today. Great things happening there. #NW88JR pic.twitter.com/RCYP3bH8AI — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) July 7, 2016
Amy , Brian France support cancer research
Frances donate $50,000 to Gabrielle's Angel Foundation