Joe Gibbs Uses Partnership With The Fund to Support Veterans

Getty Joe Gibbs watches preparations for the Daytona 500.

The Coca-Cola 600 takes place on Sunday, May 28, as NASCAR honors military members and remembers those who gave their lives in service of their country. Joe Gibbs will be among those taking part as he uses a partnership with Semper Fi & America’s Fund to raise money for veterans in need of adaptive services.

The support of this charitable organization was made possible through Joe Gibbs Racing‘s partnership with Interstate Batteries. The longest-tenured team sponsor is using Christopher Bell’s No. 20 Toyota Camry to promote The Fund, a nonprofit that helps offset the costs of adaptive vehicles, integrative wellness, and other needs of injured service members.

“Can you imagine 32 years ago, I showed up on Interstate’s doorstep with a dream on a piece of paper?” Gibbs asked during an interview with Heavy. “And they asked me, they said, ‘Now who’s your driver?’ And I said, ‘We don’t have one.’ They said, ‘Where’s your race shop?’ And I said, ‘We don’t have one.’ I said, ‘This is a dream on a piece of paper.’ And can you believe they said, ‘Let’s do this?’

“And here we are 32 years with our founding sponsor still with us. And Interstate is so excited about teaming up with Semper Fi & America’s Fund at the 600 this weekend. …We want to help our veterans and, in particular, those that have been injured serving our country.

“We want to help them and we’re hoping people will get involved with us and help with the fund. So we can help our veterans with things like transportation.”

Transportation is a key focus of this partnership considering the financial burden on veterans and their families. A key stat provided by The Fund showed that the cost to replace one adaptive vehicle is $20,000 – $80,000.

Veterans returning home from service in need of adaptive vehicles can apply for a one-time vehicle grant from the VA, but this is only $24,000. In 2022, The Fund fulfilled $4 Million in adaptive vehicle grants for service members and veterans.

The Fund Has Helped Numerous Veterans With Transportation & Other Needs

GettyMilitary members participate in pre-race ceremonies at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

SGT Jason Smith, who joined Coach Gibbs for interviews, has his own ties to The Fund. Back in 2012, he stepped on an improvised explosive device, and sustained injuries that led to the loss of his legs. SGT Smith underwent multiple surgeries and an extensive rehabilitation process before medically retiring from the United States Army.

“My experiences working with The Fund has been amazing,” SGT Smith said. “I don’t think there’s a word to really describe how much they’ve done for me. But I can tell you that there’s a lot of things that I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish or my family wouldn’t have been able to accomplish had they not been in our corner.

“We had a home built for us. And they donated to that. There was a time where I was looking at putting a down payment for a tractor — I had a lot of acreage — and I just called to say, ‘Is there any way? Is that something you do?’ And they blew my expectations out of the water with that.”

SGT Smith points to The Fund as a source of inspiration for the next move in his life. He is working on starting a mobile gym business, Battleborn, which will host athletic events and bring training to clients at their homes. He has seen the importance of fitness in his own life, and he wants to share this with others, especially veterans.

“My dream is to be able to bring fitness places, same places people bring food trucks,” SGT Smith said. “You have events, you’ve got your beer stuff, you’ve got all this stuff here. Why not have something that is more fitness related or healthy for you?

“And fitness is extremely important to the veteran community because it’s a healthy outlet, a healthy approach to stress and unseen things, anxiety, PTSD. You get stronger as a whole, you get mental clarity, and it’s imperative for us to stay active.

“Once we get out, you almost lose your sense of direction, and things can get dark quickly. But if you focus on things that strengthen you and heal you, again, on a healthy holistic level, I mean, you’ll be better at the back end of it.”

Coach Doesn’t Take His Career for Granted

GettyJoe Gibbs (right) visits Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Memorial Day weekend is one of the most important on the NASCAR schedule. It has the longest race on the schedule, and it provides fans and industry members alike with the opportunity to thank those that have fought for the freedoms they enjoy on a daily basis.

This is something that Coach Gibbs doesn’t take lightly. He is in charge of a championship-winning organization that fields eight cars across three racing series, and he has 400 people working for him at JGR. This was made possible by those that have put their lives on the line defending the country.

Gibbs will keep this in mind during the Coca-Cola 600 weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, especially during the pre-race ceremonies that further highlight military members and their sacrifices.

“It’s a time to focus, I think it’s one of the most emotional times,” Gibbs added. “That race is going to start with all those cars, there’s gonna be a point where they will stop and pause for a period of time.

“It’s one of the most emotional things that we go through during the year where everybody’s kind of focused on the fact that everyone that has served to protect us in America. We can focus on that, and it’s a time to highlight people like Jason that have served and certainly sacrificed for all of us. So it’s an emotional time.”

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