More than $1 million raised in this yearâs Corvette for a Cure program
CONCORD â It pains NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon to hear stories of children getting treated for illnesses rather than playing sports or enjoying life.
The Jeff Gordon Childrenâs Foundation is devoted to finding research, cures and help for pediatrics fighting cancer.
âWhen I see at child at that critical time in their life, or maybe they are about to start playing baseball or basketball or something that could change their life, it doesnât have to be sports, to see that come to a halt because of an illness like cancer, it breaks my heart,â Gordon said.
Gordon hosted an event Friday morning at Hendrick Motorsports in Concord to celebrate the end of his annual Corvette for a Cure program.
Since its start in 2006, the program has raised more than $9 million for children fighting cancer.
This year, 10,000 tickets were sold at $100 apiece.
A 2019 Chevrolet Grand Sport Coupe was raffled off and won by Scott Fowler, of Brooklyn, Mich.
At Mondayâs event, which also included support from NASCAR owner Rick Hendrick, Gordon handed over the keys to the carâs new owner.
More than $1 million were raised for the third year in a row.
âItâs been amazing how it has grown,â Gordon said. âI donât remember what that first Corvette was. It was something through Chevrolet where we talked about a car and doing something with it for charity. Chevrolet has been great supporters over the years for that. Weâve had tremendous support and now it is hard to believe that we have raised $9 million with this.â
The Jeff Gordon Foundation has been instrumental in childhood cancer research at Levineâs Childrenâs Hospital in Charlotte and other hospitals across the world.
Gordon also helped fund the Jeff Gordon Childrenâs Center here in Concord at Atrium Health Cabarrus.
âThe Jeff Gordon Center does great work. We donât do cancer work but they do amazing work for children over there,â Gordon said. âWe are very fortunate, also to have, of having Levineâs Children Hospital in Charlotte doing not just diagnosis and treatment, but they are doing research. We are involved with a handful of researchers around the country, and we are fortunate to have one of the best in the country right here.â
Gordon continues to be inspired by children who are fighting the disease.
He introduced a full room at the Team Center at Hendrick Motorsports to 2-year-old Merritt, who is putting up a courageous battle with cancer.
Gordon founded the childhood cancer foundation in 1999 and has helped raise millions of dollars to help find cures for pediatric cancer.
âThatâs the thing, you see (Merritt) and sheâs in treatment right now,â Gordon said. âToday, you wouldnât even know it because she is a bundle of joy and smiling, but you also know that when you are around it as much as I have been, thatâs not how it is every day. You really start connecting with the parents, especially as a parent now, of what that diagnosis has meant to them and how it has changed their lives. You just want to do anything you can for those kids and give them the best care possible.â
Gordon initially became invested in childhood cancer when he learned his former crew chief Ray Evernhamâs son was diagnosed with leukemia.
He witnessed first-hand how cancer affected one of his good friends.
âI saw what a parent goes through,â Gordon said. â(Ray) was excited with where his life was taking him, and building this race team, and things couldnât be better, then boom, you get that news and I saw first-hand how that affect he and his wife. It just made me want to do more.â
Gordon then learned his owner, legendary Rick Hendrick, was diagnosed with cancer in 1996.
Those instances are what revved up Gordonâs engines to use his popular platform to raise awareness and money for cancer.
âAnytime it touches close to home, you want to know what you can do to learn more about it and support ways to research or get to the right hospital or doctors,â Gordon said.
Gordon, the former driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, has four NASCAR Cup Series championships and is in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
However, even with all of those accolades, Hendrick believes the battle against cancer is Gordonâs greatest achievements.
âThereâs nothing in this world that feels as good, than to see a child have a second chance,â Hendrick said. âThe trophies and championships mean nothing when you are thinking about a little one and give them another chance at life.â
Gordon stopped racing full-time in 2015, but he remains busy with his Jeff Gordon Foundation, being an announcer for Fox NASCAR and being a top executive for Hendrick Motorsports.
âIâm very busy and I am enjoying what I am doing,â Gordon said. âI left the sport very content which not everybody can say. Your timing of when you walk away, sometimes you donât get the choice. There could be an injury or something that takes you out. I was fortunate to walk away on my own times and have some plans.â