Thanks to generous fans and the combined efforts of Wish For Our Heroes (W4OH), the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indiana National Guard, 117 Indiana-based soldiers will attend the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard powered by BigMachineRecords.com Sunday, July 29 at IMS.
Fans donated $10,000 to the W4OH campaign that is providing reserved seats for military members for the 19th annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A national, non-profit organization based in Noblesville, Ind., Wish For Our Heroes coordinated the purchase and delivery of the tickets to the participating soldiers.
For the first time, Wish For Our Heroes provided fans with the opportunity to help send active United States military or veterans to the Indianapolis 500, the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard powered by BigMachineRecords.com or the Red Bull Indianapolis GP in 2012.
“We’re honored to partner with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Jeff Wells, W4OH president. “The Speedway obviously has a very long-standing tradition and relationship with Hoosier military members to send as many of them to races as possible, so we’re honored just to be part of that and to help them fulfill the mission of taking care of our Indiana military.”
A U.S. Army veteran who served for 15 months in Baghdad, Iraq, ending in 2005, Wells started Wish
For Our Heroes in honor of his father, 1st Sgt. Thomas G. Wells, shortly after he died in 2009. Since then, Wish For Our Heroes has granted nearly $1.5 million worth of wishes and aid for U.S. troops and has raised nearly $2 million.
“We’ve seen several families in tears when they’ve received these tickets because they’re just so excited,” Wells said. “Anybody who lives in Indiana, they want to go to the race, and for these family members to know that there are folks out there that are donating tickets to take care of our military, it just breaks them down, and the reaction is unbelievable.”
Thanks to Wish For Our Heroes, Sgt. 1st Class William Hudson, a 21-year Army veteran from Cincinnati, will attend the Sprint Cup race Sunday, July 29 at IMS.
“I couldn’t be more excited to go,” Hudson said. “This will be my first ever race to see in person. I think it’s an awesome thing that’s being done for the soldiers. A lot of them don’t have either the funds or means to do stuff like this, and the granting of wishes and everything else, it’s an awesome thing these guys are doing.”
The “Wish Fund” program is accepting donations to send soldiers to the 2012 Red Bull Indianapolis GP MotoGP race Sunday, Aug. 19 at IMS. Captain Ryan Fischer, who was born and raised in Logansport, Ind., and lives in Brownsburg, Ind., is a huge MotoGP fan who twice has attended the race at IMS thanks to W4OH. As much as Fischer enjoys seeing MotoGP race at IMS, he’s just as excited to see one of his fellow soldiers attend the event.
“I have a soldier that’s under my command who actually has a Purple Heart from Iraq,” Fischer said.
“He’s also a huge MotoGP guy, and he’s actually a bigger fan than I am, and so it’s been great to see him have that full experience. It’s really great that Wish For Our Heroes is able to do that in conjunction with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
As for his own excitement about attending his third MotoGP race next month at IMS, Fischer can’t wait for the green flag to drop.
“They’d have to threaten to take my commission for me not to go,” he said.
Wish For Our Heroes provides fans three ways to salute American service members through contributions or donations at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com/wish4ourheroes or www.wish4ourheroes.org:
•Contribute funds: Contribute $5 or more toward the purchase of a 2012 IMS event ticket for an active-duty service member or veteran.
•Purchase tickets: Purchase a 2012 IMS event ticket for an active-duty service member or veteran.
•Donate tickets: Donate extra or unused 2012 IMS event tickets to an active-duty service member or veteran.
Fans may also make donations to send soldiers to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP during the pre-race infield concert before the start of the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard powered by BigMachineRecords.com on Sunday, July 29. Ten active-duty soldiers will be in the concert crowd accepting donations.
Fans who donate the purchase price of a ticket to the “Wish Fund” can designate the service branch and service status (active, reserves, National Guard, veteran, wounded veteran) of the ticket recipient. “Wish Fund” contributors who donate tickets or the purchase price of a ticket also can receive a picture of the military recipient and learn more about their dedicated service to the country.
Wish For Our Heroes strives to relieve the burdens of family separation, reintegration for deployed soldiers, hardship circumstances and other means of assistance not covered by existing military charities. W4OH is a tax-exempt charity under Code Section 501(c)(3).
The purpose of W4OH is simple: Reward brave men and women who make so many sacrifices for our great nation every day.