A Day to Remember – For all of us!

Saturday was a day we will all remember, not for what anyone did, but for who we met!

A letter from Rhyse’s mom …
Thank you Heather, for allowing us to share time with your son and family.

We don’t know what to say, or how to say it.  I hope our faces-at least in part–spoke of our gratitude for your organization RacingAwareness.com and for your kindness towards total strangers. The past four years have been the hardest years of our lives.  Fraught with constant illnesses, accumulating diagnoses, cancer scares, debilitating malnutrition, and health care split between two different health systems our lives have been forever changed. We have learned to live differently, love differently, and hold on a little tighter to each moment.

In the first three and a half years there were no outings, no mom and dad dates, no trips to the beach, just living in the moment–from crisis to crisis and hospitalization to hospitalization.  The past 12 months have not been easy either, with winter virus’s constantly beating his little body down, and fighting a never ending battle against weight loss, malnutrition and dehydration, despite his feeding tube.

Behind Rhyse’s cute, little smile and fire engine red hair is a fragile, medically complex little man. Rhyse was born with Noonan Syndrome. A syndrome that affects every single cell in his body, to differing degrees.  From oral aversion/dysphagia he is unable to eat anything beyond a cracker or bread so he is tube fed.  With hypotonia (poor muscle tone) he is unable to do much of what a four year, nearly five year old can do: dress and undress himself, carry anything over a pound, open and close things, snap snaps, take his shoes on or off, etc.  With ulcerative colitis he is unable to be potty trained at this time, and endures 4 hour infusions every six weeks to suppress an already broken immune system opening him up to every virus and bacteria that passes by. He has slings in his eyelids (ptosis) to hold them above his pupils.  At night he wears a body brace in a hopeful attempt at straightening his curvy spine, all the while being attached to his feeding pump.  A wicked combination that makes every single night a battle against tangled feeding tube lines and a brace that restricts his movement. And the list goes on.

Every day childhood illnesses put kids like Rhyse in the hospital. And the fear and anxiety we as a family have faced, and still live with, goes well beyond words—and yet we have joy because he is joy!  And it truly is the little things that mean the most to all of us.


In Rhyse’s world anything on four wheels is heaven on earth! For every appointment, hospitalization or procedure a carefully chosen vehicle goes with him.  He lives and breathes cars, trucks, and emergency vehicles with engines that always need fixing and whose tires go flat–and tow trucks that save the day!  Since he was very little we have always said, “he must have a car gene in there somewhere!” So, as you can imagine, treating him and his family to a night at the raceway was the penultimate gift to him and us.  When he suffers we suffer, and when he has joy, we have joy!

Again, on behalf of my family, and the entire Noonan Syndrome family around the world, THANK YOU Jeff Striegle, Dave Lake, Lisa Davan, Erika Welch and the rest of the team for your kindness, humanness, autographs, invitation to victory lane, ride in the pace truck, and the most mind blowing, gifting the trophy to Rhyse!!!! What an amazing token of unselfishness that he will remember for the rest of his life!

 “RacingAwareness.com and Racing Awareness Inc. are two separate entities that were created with the sole intent of providing children and their families from Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, of West Michigan, who are experiencing or have experienced an illness or injury of a child, a diversion from the healthcare process utilizing the sport of auto racing”. You can read all about the team, and the little boy who inspired the formation of Racing Awareness.com and Racing Awareness Inc. on their site.

Batman Returns To The Berlin Raceway!

Super Heros on a Super Night

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Friday, June 24 update to this post – Fireworks have been added!  See you there

For the third year in a row, BATMAN RETURNS to the Berlin Raceway, but this time the Caped Crusader will be bringing 16 friends to join in this celebration of kids!

Saturday Night, June 25th, it’s Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital night at the track, presented by RacingAwareness.com (a 501c3 nonprofit). See the three HDVCH cars in action, meet the drivers and experience the excitement of auto racing at one of the country’s best family friendly facilities.

Kids young and old will enjoy Spiderman, Wonder Women, Super Man and, making their first ever Berlin Raceway appearance, the Ninja Turtles! Super Heros will be ready for photos, fun and games from 5 to 8p and join the drivers during the scheduled autograph session.

Family and staff associated with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital can pick up free tickets to the event inside the library while supplies last, courtesy of RacingAwareness.com.

All kids 11 and under receive FREE admission – first 250 receive a FREE hot dog and Craig’s Cruisers activity. Racing includes, Super Late Models, Modifieds, Sportsman and 4-cylinders.  Adult tickets $12 Gates open at 3p

RacingAwareness.com is a 100% volunteer, West Michigan 501c3 nonprofit charity formed in 2010. To date RA has raised just shy of $300,000 in support of HDVCH. Financially, we support NMTRC, The Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium under the direction of Dr. Giselle Sholler MD MSC Chair, through the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. See more NMTRC on how Dr. Giselle is leading the way, worldwide, in the fight against this life threatening illness.

Scheduled to appear, Bat Man, Bat Girl, Super Man, Spider Man, Spider Women, Wonder Women, Black Widow, The Hulk, Flash, Justice, Super Girl, Pink Power Ranger, Captain America and the Ninja Turtles.

Charity Golf Outing Set for September / Thousand Oaks Golf Club

Monday September 12, 2016
What:    7th Annual RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing presented by Festida Foods and Vanderhyde Ford 

Where:    Thousand Oaks Golf Course

The marquee event of the year, held at the beautiful Thousand Oaks Golf Club in Grand Rapids. The outing has been a complete sellout each of the prior six years so don’t delay in getting your foursome registered. For  information and/or to register, contact us at talktous@racingawareness.com
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RacingAwareness.com charity golf outing proceeds support The Neuroblastoma and         Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium under the direction of Dr. Giselle Sholler MD MSC Chair, through the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. See more at  NMTRC  RacingAwareness.com is a 100% volunteer 501c3 nonprofit charity. All financial partnerships are charitable donations

Cost: $700 per foursome
Cost includes, golf, cart, lunch, happy hour, dinner,  auction and more.

Get involved in West Michigan and the health of our children by becoming a Team RA Charity Partner:

VICTORY LANE SPONSOR $5,000
Recognition as key sponsor on all promotions materials including but limited to:
• Headline inclusion on all golf outing invitations, facebook and website messaging
• Two (2) complimentary foursomes
• One on course and clubhouse entrance signage 4’ by 8’
• Tee sign sponsor with location preference
• Recognition on Champions Trophy Display
• Recognition and signage / Clubhouse / Dinner
• Company sponsorship gift

CHECKERED FLAG SPONSOR $2,500
• Recognition on all golf outing invitations, facebook and website messaging
• One complimentary foursome
• Tee sign sponsor of hole with location preference
• Recognition as lunch or appetizer sponsor
• Recognition on Champions Trophy Display
• Company sponsorship gift

GREEN FLAG SPONSOR $1,500
• One complimentary foursome
• Tee sign sponsor of hole
• Recognition on Chairman’s Round-table Display

WHITE FLAG SPONSOR $800
• One complimentary foursome
• Tee sign sponsor of hole

YOUR CHOICE $500
Choose one of the following sponsorship’s:
• Tee sign sponsor of hole, with a booth at the tee
• Longest Drive Sponsor
• Longest Putt Sponsor
• Closest to the Pin Sponsor
• Putting Green Sponsor
• Beverage Cart Sponsor

TEE SPONSOR $300
• Tee sign sponsor of hole

 

Lake Wins Modified Season Opener

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Dave Lake made a long awaited return to Victory Lane on Saturday, April 16, 2016 in the Berlin Raceway season opening modified feature, driving the RA 97L.  Lake passed Blake Rowe, 9 laps into the race, and then held off the hard charging Bill Eppink to claim the victory.  Dave’s win was his 45th career feature victory.  In 2011, Lake won 7 times, in the RA modified, in route to the modified championship.

Ride along with Dave Lake, April 16, 2016, in the RacingAwareness.com 97L modified at the Berlin Raceway.

 

 

ICEBREAKER Berlin Raceway

ICE BREAKER EXPERIENCE

April 16, 2016

The season is almost here and we want you to experience it in style! Berlin is offering an Ice Breaker Experience for April 16. This experience allows you and 9 of your family members and friends to watch the races from the private Berlin Party Deck, provides you with a meal coupon for the buffet on the deck and gives you the personal experience of meeting some of Berlin’s own drivers during a meet and greet session on the deck before the races start! Purchase your experience now for just $100. This is limited to the first 12 groups of 10, so book yours now – BOOK NOW

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Bring A Family To The Races, 2016 – Presented by RacingAwareness.com

Up to 10 people each week the RA cars are on the track!! 

Everyone knows a family that needs a getaway from their everyday routine; an opportunity for an evening together of fun, laughter, and for making new memories. In 2016, RacingAwareness.com will make that opportunity available to families with an evening at the Berlin Raceway.    

Each week that thra5e RacingAwareness.com cars are on the track (RA schedule) at the Berlin Raceway, one family will experience the sights and sounds of short track racing and be a part of the action. This package includes complimentary general admission, hot dogs and a beverage for up to 10 people.  Plus, the RA team will add some special surprises along the way.  One package will be presented on each RA race Saturday in 2016.10478574_10152263599182983_2892172741206778919_n

While this opportunity is open to all, special consideration will be given to those families that have experienced hardship due to the illness or injury of a child.

Are you, or do you know of a family that is ready to spend an evening together making new memories?  If so, please contact RacingAwareness.com!  Opportunities are limited so don’t delay.  Submit your request today.  If selected, an RA representative will contact you directly.

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Auto Show Big Hit Again

Auto Show Big Hit Again

The 2016 West Michigan International Auto Show lived up to the hype again this year with record breaking crowds and a peek at what’s new in the automobile industry. For the seventh year in a row, RacingAwareness.com, was an invited guest, given the opportunity to raise funds for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital and debut the RA race cars.

Thank you to all that stopped for a visit, drive the racing simulator, sign the hood, purchase the latest in RA apparel or watch the cars come to life.

Special thanks to:
The RA volunteers
Horvath Design – detailing the cars
Berlin Raceway – racing simulator
The Screen Print Dept – 2016 RA apparel

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Racing Awareness’ Ben Welch Racing Super Lates in 2016

Grand Rapids, MI (October 20, 2015) – RacingAwareness.com announced today that its 17 year old driver, Ben Welch, would drive one the team’s two Super Lates in 2016. Welch, a senior at Coopersville High School, will run the full super late schedule at the Berlin Raceway contending for Rookie of the Year honors in the upcoming season. Welch has driven the past two years for RA in the team’s 97L Modified, where he captured four feature wins and the 2015 Track Championship.

Ben has been on the fast track since age 7 when he first jumped in the seat of a go-kart and has been racing ever since. Following success at a young age, turning right and left on area kart tracks, in 2010, Mike Welch, Ben’s dad, decided to try Ben at Winston Speedway on the dirt oval. The experiment proved successful, as he claimed his first ever feature win in a full-body stock car!

Ben first caught the eye of Racing Awareness co-owner Jeff Striegle in 2012, when Ben, then age 14, moved to Berlin and was driving a modified for a different team. “Ben started alongside our car on the restart. I thought we would just run away from him, but that kid hung with us for several laps and raced us very clean. I knew who he was before that but wanted to know more about him after that”. Two years later Ben was driving for RacingAwareness.com; winning a feature in his very first start.

In 2016, Ben will begin a new chapter in his racing career by competing full time in the highly competitive super late model series at Berlin. Ben ran four times in the JEGS / CRA All-Star Tour in 2015 (a traveling crate motor super late series) and in addition to his commitment to Berlin, plans to do a limited schedule with the family owned car again in 2016. “We are going to try and race as much as we can”. Welch said about his upcoming plans “I want as much seat time as I can get. I enjoy the JEGS Series a lot but my focus will be on Berlin and trying to improve each week”.

Striegle thinks Ben’s weekly progression should be rapid and noticeable. “This is a young man with a lot of natural talent. He’s great athlete, and has all the characteristics necessary to be a great race car driver”. In addition to auto racing, during his high school career, Ben competed with the basketball team and most recently on the Coopersville Men’s tennis team in the #1 Doubles. Welch and partner Caleb Wiegerink, closed out their high school tennis careers by finishing 3rd in their conference. Both Welch and Wiegerink were voted to the OK Blue All Conference team by the conference coaches in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Ben, while attending school, is also employed at Van Doorn Racing Development. “We are proud to be partnered with VRD and having Ben there is added bonus. The unique thing for him is he is learning both on and off the track, something that will be key to his growth and on track success”, stated Racing Awareness co-owner, Norm Jelsma.

Look for Ben Welch in the RA 67L super late when the season opens at the Berlin Raceway in April of 2016. RacingAwareness.com will campaign three cars in 2016, including Ben and Dave Lake who will be driving the 97L Modified. RA will make its third and final driver announcement regarding the team’s second super late by the end of October.

Look for the entire RA team of drivers and volunteers at the Michigan International Auto Show, January 28 – 31, 2016, at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids.To be a part of RacingAwareness.com, supporting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital as a volunteer or team partner/sponsor, contact us via email at racingawareness97@gmail.com

The Untold Story About Tony Stewart That Became the Foundation for RacingAwareness.com

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On Wednesday, Tony Stewart announced to race fans around the world that 2016 would be his last behind the wheel of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car. Many could see the handwriting on the wall, many more hoped this day 12087764_1008284762556234_3872451188615400573_owould never come.

After the season finale in Homestead,14 months from now, NASCAR will lose one of the most talented drivers ever to strap into a racing machine of any kind. Few drivers possess the ability, drive, tenacity, desire, passion, enthusiasm, and pure heart as Stewart does. His accomplishments are many, most notably, his three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships.

Stewart has won at every level of motorsports including a World Karting Association Championship in 1987, and in 1995 became the first driver ever to win the USAC Triple Crown. In 1997, Tony won the IRL championship before turning his attention towards a Hall of Fame career in NASCAR. Stewart has competed on “hometown” tracks and super speedways across North America ; everywhere, every weekend, giving 100%. There may be no one more charismatic than Tony Stewart!

Chances are, you already know this about Tony. You already know that he is one of our sport’s biggest stars, and you already know he is one of the greatest drivers.

Now, let us share with you a story about Tony Stewart, the person, that you might not know. This is a story not about his talents on the track but rather his heart off it. In fact, without this story, we wouldn’t be here and you wouldn’t be reading this story on RacingAwareness.com. We take you back to August 2007, when we were asked to help a boy, and now our long time friend, Tristan, fulfill his dream.

Tristan, age 10 at the time, had been living with an illness that was potentially life threatening. His family wanted to provide him with the opportunity to meet his hero, Tony Stewart.

It was Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway, Tristan and his family were invited to the track, and the Gordon Food Service hospitality suite that we managed, with little detail about what they were going to experience. At the same time, Tony was having a typical Friday of practice and qualifying. As the afternoon and the on track activities came to a close, the opportunity to bring Tristan and Tony together finally came. Still unbeknownst to anyone of what was next, Tristan was swept off on a golf cart for a personal whirlwind tour of the facility, while his family was escorted to the driver/owner motorcoach lot where the meeting was scheduled to occur. The anticipation for us was overwhelming as the meeting time approached.

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Tristan arrived on time, just out front of Stewart’s personal RV, but Tony wasn’t ready, so the meeting time came and passed. The group waited patiently as other drivers passed by noticing the large group. Each driver inquired if we needed assistance which quickly turned into a warm greeting, pictures and autographs for Tristan. Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, were great to meet but the hope of meeting Tony overshadowed the moment.

After watching Tony’s coach from afar and the flurry of activity that surrounded it, we weren’t sure if the meeting was meant to be, but then, as planned, Tony emerged. He approached the group, still in his fire suit and shoes and with an outstretched hand, he said ‘you must be Tristan’. The waiting and any anxiety faded instantly as Tony invited Tristan to his home away from home where he proceeded to spend the next hour with Tristan and his dad like they were long time friends. Their time together was genuinely magical. Tony also provided Tristian with a bag full of memorabilia including a 1/24th scale version of his #20, Home Depot Chevrolet.

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To conclude the visit, Tony invited Tristan and his dad to Victory Lane if he won on Sunday. For those that understand the logistics of traveling to and from MIS, getting fans to Victory Lane and that the August 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup event at MIS wasn’t held until Tuesday due to rain, you will appreciate what happened next.

After Tristan’s visit with Tony on Friday, he and his family returned on Sunday as they had planned, however, Sunday’s event was postponed due to rain. Not expecting to see Tristan again, we were very surprised when he showed up in the suite on Monday. During that day, the rain continued and many of the race teams were exploring the suite area simply to stay dry. Then, they came across Tristan. One by one, Tristan was visited by race teams, drivers and provided tours of haulers and pit road. Watching Tristan experience this was overwhelming. But again, Mother Nature would have the final say and would postpone the event to Tuesday. As difficult as it was for them, Tristan and dad again returned on Tuesday. Tony’s chances of putting the #20 in Victory Lane at MIS were really good that year and Tristan was determined to not o nly see it but share it with his hero.12138389_1008273995890644_6539094138950508858_o 12087260_1008283335889710_1610499325512445667_o

 

 

 

 

The green flag finally flew on Tuesday morning, but the event was yet again delayed, this time by fog! With the red flag hanging from the starter’s stand, we all sat and waited. During the delay, the media was in search of creative stories to fill the extended broadcast. During this time we were surprised to be visited by Tristan’s new crew member friends who came up from Pit Road but also an ESPN TV crew! Yes, Tristan was even the feature of a Mike Massaro interview. He was the focus of everyone. Only a Stewart win would have made the weekend more amazing! The wish of an ill child had been fulfilled by Tony and the supporting NASCAR cast!
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Tony didn’t win that day, at least not on the track. But as a person, he showed many what type of individual he is. He handed a child he didn’t know, a memory that will last a lifetime; he handed us an idea. The idea became, RacingAwareness.com supporting Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.

Tony has meant a lot to this RA team. In fact there might not have been an RA team if it wasn’t for the time between a child and his hero. We are not sure that Tony even knows all of this, and even if he did know, he would more than likely deflect the credit away from him, t12068453_1008284692556241_412124327653823056_ohat’s just his style.

We asked Tony, ‘with such an amazing appreciation for kids, why we don’t see this side of you played out on TV’? Stewart replied something to the effect of, it’s not about TV, or what the fans see, it’s about the kids and that’s all that matters. We couldn’t agree more.

Thank you Tony Stewart for everything you have delivered, both on and off the track! We hope you enjoy everything that the future has in store, and if returning to the Berlin Raceway should ever be in those plans, we have a car waiting.

2015 RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing Powered by Consumers Credit Union

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The RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing Powered by Consumers Credit Union is just around the corner!  RacingAwareness.com is looking forward to seeing all of the golfers, new and returning, while raising funds and awareness for The Neuroblastoma and Medulloblastoma Translational Research Consortium (NMTRC) at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital.  NMTRC Chair, Dr. Giselle Sholler, MD MSC, will be on hand to share information on the groundbreaking work being done by the NMTRC at HDVCH and how the event’s proceeds will advance the consortium’s efforts.  

We are also excited to have participating in the event, NASCAR Hall of Fame Driver, Rusty Wallace, who will be golfing and will address golfers during dinner.   

The 2016 RacingAwareness.com Charity Golf Outing, powered by Consumers Credit Union is sold out.  Please contact RacingAwareness.com via email at racingawareness97@gmail.com.  if you

are interested in playing and being placed on a wait list in the event of a cancellation,

Event Details; Monday September 14, 2015
Thousand Oaks Golf Club
1400 Thousand Oaks Drive
Grand Rapids, MI 49525

Shotgun start at 11:00 am with registration opening at 9:30 am
Lunch and dinner provided
Social timing and dinner immediately following golf with silent and live auction.  

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This year’s auctions will again feature one of a kind items!  Highlighted items include a custom painted Gibson guitar by the Official Artist of NASCAR, Sam Bass, Ford  autographed helmet with 4 tickets to the 2016 June NASCAR event at Michigan International Speedway, autographed Jack Nicklaus putter, corporate BBQ lunch prepared at your location for your employees, and a custom autographed Rusty Wallace ‘Last Call’ framed print.  Additional items include, sporting event tickets, airfare and Disney vouchers, chef prepared in home dinner with live music, NASCAR Pit Road Experience, cooking school and personal trainer sessions.  Something for everyone!

Questions regarding the outing can be emailed to racingawareness97@gmail.com