Comcast today announced the finalists for the 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, an annual award created to recognize the philanthropic efforts of individuals within NASCAR. Whether by creating the first COVID-19 drive-thru mass vaccination clinic in North Carolina, providing additional access to education, or supporting shelter animals in need, the 2021 class of honorees has gone above and beyond in creating positive change throughout the year.
The 2021 finalists are:
Curtis Francois, Owner of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL
Greg Walter, Executive Vice President/GM at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Jamie Little, Pit reporter for NASCAR coverage on FOX
“Curtis, Greg and Jamie are demonstrating how important it is to make a positive impact on their community and we’re proud to honor them with this award that recognizes individuals within the sport who are going above and beyond.” said Matt Lederer, Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification at Comcast. “Community impact is one of Comcast’s core values, and each of these finalists embodies what it means to be a champion in their community.”
Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now also Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, the company has donated $840,000 to more than 20 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and to help further the impact of their worthy causes. Fans can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to learn more about past and present finalists and their acts of selflessness.
“There are so many inspirational stories of individuals and teams within NASCAR giving back and now more than ever it is important to bring that to life,” Lederer added.
The 2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year will be selected by a panel of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace, who received the award in 2020 for his work with the Live To Be Different Foundation, which supports disadvantaged individuals and those in need of a second chance with educational, social or other types of assistance needed to help make their dreams reality. Through a message of compassion, love and understanding, Live To Be Different’s mission is empowering the next generation to strive and achieve anything they put their mind to.
“The NASCAR community is blessed to have a strong partner in Comcast that has continued to show its commitment to supporting NASCAR communities across the nation,” said Bubba Wallace, 2020 Comcast Community Champion of the Year. “Their donation to the Live to Be Different Foundation helped us continue to make a positive and lasting impact as we work to remove barriers and fulfill dreams for future generations. We are honored to be a past Comcast Community Champion of the Year and look forward to seeing the impact this year’s honorees make on their communities.”
Comcast will award $60,000 to the champion’s affiliated charity, and $30,000 to each of the two remaining finalists’ selected charities. The 2021 Comcast Community Champion will be announced at the end of November.
2021 Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists:
Curtis Francois (Madison, Illinois) – A lifelong St. Louisan and former professional racecar driver, Curtis Francois is committed to his community and is dedicated to making the metropolitan St. Louis region a premier racing destination. Francois purchased World Wide Technology Raceway in 2011. After years of hard work and a multi-million-dollar investment in the track and its surrounding areas, today, World Wide Technology Raceway hosts hundreds of events throughout the year and is the only venue in the U.S. to host the elite series from each of the three major race sanctioning bodies.
WWTR’s charitable foundation, Raceway Gives, leverages the resources and technology opportunities associated with motorsports to provide programs that enhance education and career opportunities for youth, with a focus on STEM education and diversity. Raceway Gives focuses on gifted, diverse and underserved youth, as well as military families, using three pillars: motorsports career opportunities, community engagement with high schools and youth clubs, and educational experiences. Raceway Gives is actively engaged with Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee and the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Center in East St. Louis, Illinois, via a “Racing in the Classroom” program that has and continues to introduce motorsports education to an underserved community for local youth ages 8-18.
Greg Walter (Charlotte, North Carolina) – Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter has navigated uncharted waters with a servant’s heart, steering the speedway’s efforts to support the community in its most challenging time of need. Under Greg’s dedicated leadership, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the country’s first professional sports venue to serve as a remote testing site and hosted North Carolina’s first drive-thru mass vaccination clinic. The speedway also hosted food drives, blood drives and high school graduations.
Greg serves on the board of the Charlotte chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides funding for hundreds of non-profit organizations throughout the nation that meet the direct needs of children. In a year of reduced donations and fundraising events nationwide, Greg and the SCC staff found creative ways to generate charity funds, such as hosting sold-out, summertime drive-in movies. Greg’s efforts played a role in distributing more than $300,000 SCC funds at Christmas to deserving area nonprofits serving children in need.
Jamie Little (Indianapolis, Indiana) – Veteran motorsports reporter Jamie Little joined FOX NASCAR in 2015 to cover pit road for the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series & Camping World Truck Series. She has covered NASCAR since 2007. Little is extremely active in animal rescue work, donating to over 25 animal shelters throughout the country, most of them in communities that host NASCAR races. Prior to moving to Indianapolis in late 2017, Little spent much of her free time volunteering at The Animal Foundation, Nevada’s largest animal rescue shelter, that is where her passion for animal rescue and adoption truly began.
In 2020, Little started working with the Animal Help Alliance, a foster based rescue that specializes in rescuing the underdog, the broken and the hard to adopt animals in our community, a year ago when she came across a post on Instagram with photos of a pitbull who had suffered blunt force trauma to the head, requiring surgery to save her life. As a parent to two pitbull rescues, Little felt compelled to connect with AHA to further help animals impacted by neglect and abuse, while raising awareness about the benefits of rescuing & adopting animals in need.
Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs & partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Comcast Community Impact site.
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Comcast Community Champion of the Year finalists revealed originally appeared on NBCSports.com