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Speedway Middle School Students get Green Flag as they “Race to Prepare” with NASCAR and Red Cross

July 26, 2009

We recently sponsored a disaster preparedness event with Red Cross, NASCAR and a large group of middle school students. When I was in middle school, my family moved to the Virgin Islands. Back then I was somewhat familiar with disaster preparedness – as we took hurricane season very seriously – but I was not familiar with NASCAR. While NASCAR drivers race at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour and drive on high tech speedways, the top speed limit in the islands was 40 miles per hour and lines were painted on roads by a guy in a motorcycle sidecar with a bucket of paint and a brush!

On July 22, sixty enthusiastic and energetic Speedway Middle School students in Indianapolis were cheered on by dozens of FedEx and Red Cross volunteers after NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin waved the green flag to start the “Race to Prepare” event (as seen in the photo). The event, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, was designed to help the Red Cross communicate their preparedness message in the Indy market and to teach young people about how to be prepared for disasters.

The students raced in teams, forming “fire brigade” lines of 10 team members each. At the wave of the green flag they began hurriedly passing important disaster preparedness items down the line, one at a time. They placed them into kits that each student would later take home as starter preparedness kits. The items included crank-powered flashlights, blankets, printed preparedness information and whistles.

After the race, the teams took turns visiting various learning stations where they were taught by Red Cross staff and volunteers about various aspects of disaster preparedness. At the end of the event snacks were served from a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle.

Denny spoke to the importance of preparedness. Pairing up our NASCAR sponsorship with our support for Red Cross has worked especially well as we help encourage communities to take steps needed to be prepared. Blending the excitement of NASCAR with the all important disaster preparedness message has helped engage young students and has helped spur the interest of local media which in turn helps spread the message through their channels.

Disaster preparedness and relief is one of our core philanthropic focus areas at FedEx. It’s a great fit for us as we are able to put our powerful global network to work in helping international aid agencies deliver relief when and where it is needed.

At the Race to Prepare event, Denny applied and American Red Cross decal to the #11 NASCAR. Here’s wishing the best of success to Denny in upcoming races and to the Red Cross as they continue to spread the preparedness message and speed to the rescue when disasters occur.

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