June 2, 2013
Today was a great day for all of our families who will benefit from the generous donations made, but even more special for the more than 300 families who attended Dover International Speedway's "Autism Speaks Day at the Races" program at the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks. Families, kids and fans were treated to surprise visits by drivers Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards as well as coach Joe Gibbs. This year’s program focused on the challenges that those affected by autism face as they transition into school and adulthood. Cathy Kanefsky of Autism Speaks emceed. Speakers included Senator Chris Coons (D - Del.) who discussed his support of the ABLE Act which allows families to save for long term care for those on the autism spectrum.
Katina Demetriou of Autism Delaware discussed the success that the POWER program has had in placing adults all across the spectrum in jobs across the state, saying, “We look at the person first, not the autism when matching employers." Autism Speaks Board Member Artie Kempner brought up several of the participants of the program who are employed at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino. “These guys are the motivation and their futures are bright,” he said to a big cheer! Other speakers included Autism Speaks Vice President of Family Services Lisa Goring and Peter Bradley of Dover Downs.
Our families enjoyed the race in a sensory friendly indoor grandstand that featured a quiet room and muted lighting along with a great view of the track's back stretch. The pre-race festivities kicked off with Dover International Speedway presenting a check for $50 ,000 to Alec Elbert, chief strategy and development officer of Autism Speaks, and Artie Kempner. The race was an exciting one, with the #11 FedEx car driven by Denny Hamlin running a special Autism Speaks paint scheme. Denny was in and out of the top 10 for over half of the race. Unfortunately, he hit the wall, brining on the final caution and fell to the back of the pack. The end of the race was exciting with Jimmie Johnson jumping the restart and earning a penalty, opening up the field for Juan Pablo Montoya to take the lead. He was overtaken in the final laps by Tony Stewart who took home the checkered flag, capping off an amazing day for Autism Speaks and our families in attendance.
FedEx sponsors physical and customized printouts of 100 Day Kit. You can order one by calling the Autism Response Team at 1-888-AUTISM2 or download a kit here.
On Saturday, Autism Speaks and the NASCAR Foundation held a track walk at Dover International Speedway. See photos here.
Denny Hamlin on the track before the race
The No 11 FedEx Toyota
Artie Kempner at the podium
Jamie McMurray signing autographs
Alpha Xi Delta volunteers at Dover International Speedway
Tony Stewart after winning the Fedex 400