Denny Hamlin scores checkered flag for different kind of race
While one kind of checkered flag eluded Denny Hamlin on November 22, 2010, his efforts in another race, on November 18, earned him another kind of checkered flag in my book.
On Thursday, November 18, under all the pressures associated with the upcoming final race of the NASCAR 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup – just four days away – Denny Hamlin chose to come out and participate in another kind of race, one associated with FedEx and our support for the American Red Cross: the Race to Prepare.
Back in 2009, FedEx was looking at ways we could provide more visibility to the great work of a couple of the leading global relief organizations we work with year round. We decided see how we might leverage the fantastic popularity of NASCAR and our sponsorship of Joe Gibbs Racing and the #11 FedEx car – with Denny Hamlin behind the wheel – to call greater attention to the mission and incredible efforts of these charities and the work they do in support of local communities.
And…Race to Prepare was born. With Denny’s help, we were able to add greater anticipation and excitement to events FedEx was already sponsoring in local markets. Denny’s participation in turn helped bring out the media, which brought additional media attention to the important work of two fantastic relief agencies: The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.
In the case of The Salvation Army, FedEx has donated 13 canteen trucks to them over the past couple of years. In the summer of 2009, when we donated one to The Salvation Army in Washington, D.C., coach Gibbs and Denny came out to support the event, accompanied by the #11 show car. The excitement they generated brought out every media outlet in the area to cover the event. With The Salvation Army front and center, the D.C. community was able to see and hear about their work in responding to local disasters and in feeding the hungry throughout the year. The following spring, that very canteen truck was first on the scene in responding to a terrible commuter train crash, helping victims and first responders.
This past summer, Denny participated in a canteen truck donation in Boston, Massachusetts. Joined by Mayor Thomas Menino and a celebrity chef who cooked food in the canteen truck, Denny brought an extra level of enthusiasm and attention to the event. Our FedEx team members in the area were thrilled to get to meet Denny and to learn about the ongoing important community support provided by The Salvation Army. The canteen trucks are an important component to allowing The Salvation Army to be prepared for disasters. The events with Denny were a perfect fit under the Race to Prepare “umbrella.”
With the Red Cross, we created unique events that I’ve blogged about before where we go into schools with local Red Cross chapter personnel and teach children about preparedness. We put on a race where the kids line up in fire-brigade teams and pass preparedness items (e.g. flashlights, batteries, gloves, etc.) down the line and into bags in a race to be the first team to complete filling up all their bags. The winning team is celebrated and each child gets to take home a preparedness “starter kit.”
You can imagine the heightened sense of excitement created for the children with Denny Hamlin participating in the race! After sharing some motivational words with the kids, Denny waves the green flag and jumps into the race helping fill bags and cheering on the kids. The kids also love getting to see the #11 show car. And, in addition to hearing from Denny, they get to hear from local Red Cross professionals and other safety VIPs about the importance of being prepared.
As with Race to Prepare events with The Salvation Army, Denny’s participation also helps bring out the media to the Red Cross events. Again, the heightened exposure extends the reach of the Red Cross disaster preparedness message to the whole local community where the race occurs. Race to Prepare events with the Red Cross in 2009 were held in Indianapolis, Richmond and Philadelphia. In 2010, we held them in Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.
Which brings us back to Miami just days before the final race in the series. Yes, Denny came out for one of our Race to Prepare events. Our Miami-based team members were thrilled to see him and so appreciated his commitment to the community. He came out with the show car to see them at our Miami airport facility. As part of the event, FedEx made a $10,000 check presentation to the Miami area Red Cross Chapter and part of the backdrop to the event was a load of medical supplies that happened to be in transit to Haiti which we were transporting at no cost to the Red Cross.
You will see in the photo associated with this post a large poster in front of the medical supplies. Denny and our FedEx team members wrote notes of encouragement on the poster to the aid workers that would be receiving the supplies in Haiti. Later that afternoon, some of our FedEx team members volunteered at a Race to Prepare event at a local school in Homestead.
So again, while the checkered flag eluded Denny on the 22nd, he sure earned one in my book on the 18th, and on all the other occasions where he came out to support The Salvation Army and the Red Cross. Thank you Denny for supporting the great work of these two terrific organizations!