NASCAR Driver Clint Bowyer Wins Hot Rods & Reels to Culminate “The Week”

DAVIE, Fla.< – (Nov. 30, 2009) – There’s an old saying in racing that, “it’s not where you start, but where you finish,” former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Champion Darrell Gwynn notes. With every wheelchair his Foundation donates, and every step forward in education and research to prevent and cure spinal cord injuries, he says it feels like winning another race. With continued support, he believes his goal to eradicate paralysis one day will be achieved.

The Darrell Gwynn Foundation was the big winner again this year as Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (“The Week”) wrapped up during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In addition to NASCAR drivers spotlighting the cause by including special decals on their cars in observance of The Week, 18 drivers, team owners and celebrities, including Darrell Waltrip, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Richard Childress, Martin Truex and Bobby Allison, among others, took part in the Rejuvenate Auto Hot Rods & Reels™ NASCAR Drivers Charity Fishing Tournament on the speedway’s infield lake.

Clint Bowyer’s team took top honors with three bass weighing in at 8.24 lbs. Bobby Allison’s team caught the largest fish – 3.26 lbs. Businesses and fans paid to fish with the celebrities, with all proceeds benefiting the Foundation’s mission of preventing and curing spinal cord injuries and other debilitating illnesses and the Speediatrics Unit at Homestead Hospital.

A Darrell Gwynn Foundation initiative, the fourth annual Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week was observed statewide November 16-22, 2009. Throughout The Week, the Foundation donated state-of-the art, motorized wheelchairs to deserving Floridians and reinforced its year-round mission by educating residents – particularly high school students – on ways to prevent spinal cord injuries.

As part of its outreach and to help launch Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, the Foundation premiered a poignant video, “It Could Happen To You,” starring several spinal cord injury victims during a special preview event at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, Fla. Then, throughout The Week, quadriplegic and paraplegic speakers presented the video at high schools and told students the choices they make regarding safe driving, boating, swimming and other recreational activities could help prevent spinal cord injuries.

Presentations were launched this year in Broward County and select high schools statewide, with a goal of incorporating the video into high school curriculums across Florida in the coming year.

Throughout The Week, the gift of independent mobility was presented to five deserving individuals who received custom wheelchairs ranging in cost from $16,000 to $31,000. Each year, the Darrell Gwynn Foundation provides dozens of wheelchairs to Florida residents and people across the country who have no medical insurance or whose coverage does not include state-of-the-art medical equipment.

The Foundation’s education and prevention outreach was enhanced by the Florida Department of Health, which helped produce and underwrite the cost of approximately one thousand broadcast TV spots. Gwynn and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart teamed up in the spots to deliver messages on how to prevent spinal cord injuries.

Former NHRA star Darrell Gwynn, who was paralyzed in a 1990 accident, is confined to a wheelchair. He knows first-hand that hope, encouragement and determination, aided by education, are among the keys in creating a meaningful and satisfying life, despite physical obstacles. Established in 2002, the Darrell Gwynn Foundation’s mission is to prevent, provide assistance for, and ultimately cure spinal cord injuries and other debilitating illnesses. To raise awareness for that mission, the Foundation lobbied for and secured official adoption of Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week. Initially recognized by the state Legislature in 2006, resolutions to mark The Week have been re-adopted each year since.

For 2009, Gov. Charlie Crist also issued a proclamation in support of Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week and extended congratulations for the work being done to educate Floridians about spinal cord injury prevention.

In conjunction with the Florida Department of Health, the Foundation works closely with wheelchair recipients’ doctors and therapists to custom fit chairs so they can serve as legs for those who cannot walk. To date, the program has provided more than 80 wheelchairs to those in need. To expedite specific cures, the Foundation also assists in the funding of targeted research.

About The Darrell Gwynn Foundation

The Darrell Gwynn Foundation (DGF) is a certified non-profit 501(c)3 foundation established to prevent, provide for and ultimately cure spinal cord injuries and debilitating illnesses. To expand its educational outreach, the Foundation was instrumental in the creation of Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week (FSCIAW), a series of outreach programs and activities to raise public awareness about spinal cord injury prevention. Through the efforts of state Sens. Nan Rich (D) and Garrett Richter (R), and Reps. Dorothy Hukill (R) and Juan Zapata (R), Florida House and Senate resolutions were passed officially declaring November 16-22, 2009, as Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week statewide.

The Week features personal visits to high schools by those afflicted with spinal cord injuries, prevention tips in a variety of publications, daily wheelchair donations throughout the state, and television and radio public service announcements. The Week culminates at Homestead Miami Speedway with DGF’s signature Rejuvenate Auto Hot Rods & Reels Charity Fishing Tournament, which raises funds to support the foundation. NASCAR teams also sport special decals during Ford Championship Weekend to elevate awareness about DGF’s ongoing mission. For more information about Florida Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Week, the Foundation, or the programs it supports, call 954-792-7223 or visit www.darrellgwynnfoundation.org.

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Till next time tight lines and good fishing….
From Staff Writer BASSonline – fishing@bassonline.com
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