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Life's a Beach: Johnson drives for more than trophies

Over his 19 seasons as a full-time NASCAR driver, Jimmie Johnson has carved his name into stock car racing history. His achievements include seven cup series championships, tying him for the most in history, as well as 83 individual race wins.

Johnson holds the record for most wins at Dover (11), Charlotte (8), Texas (7), Fontana (6), Las Vegas (4) and is tied for Kansas (3). On top of his numerous achievements, he is also a well-known philanthropist. Johnson has been supporting charities across the country through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation. 

The foundation was established in 2006 by Jimmie and his wife, Chandra, with a mission to help children, communities and families in need. In the past, they have partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity and Lowe’s Toolbox for Education to provide various charitable efforts. Each year they host events to help raise funds such as the Jimmie Johnson Golf tournament that has raised more than $8 million in thirteen years. The Ride of A Lifetime with Jimmie Johnson raffle, and signed race-worn visors have also been ways the foundation makes money. The funds these raise are used towards the initiatives started within the foundation.

The main focus of the foundation since 2009 has been funding K-12 education in Jimmie and his wife’s home states of California, Oklahoma and their current residency of North Carolina through the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope initiative and Champions Grant Program. They also support the Team up for Technology initiative, providing $48,000 worth of new technology to a deserving school each year. 

The Champions Grant Program offers grants ranging from $20,000-$75,000 to public and charter K-12 schools. Since 2009, the foundation has started 134 total grant projects and provided $5,882,727 in grants. In 2019, they provided to eight different schools totaling to more than $250,000 for that initiative alone. 

Most recently, the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope initiative was seeking nominations for its 2020 donations. Organizations across the United States that are non-profits connected to school-age students were eligible for the $25,000 donation. Since it began, 131 charities have been recognized through this event and $1,460,000 in contributions have been made.

The Helmet of Hope is the most personalized of Jimmie’s work because the logos of the winning groups are put on a helmet worn in-race. This year’s helmet was worn during the Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway on Aug. 23. It featured the logos of the National Mental Health Association of Georgia, Foodbank of Souixland, DMF Youth Inc., Working in the Schools and TABLE, Inc..  

Sunday, Nov. 8 will mark Johnson’s last race as a full-time driver for Hendrick Motorsports, ending a career-long partnership for the 48 car. Johnson will be retiring from NASCAR and be making the switch to IndyCar, making the switch to the Chip Ganassi team. 

Jimmie Johnson is a true legend behind the wheel, having earned many spots on the podium in his career. However, his humanitarian efforts earn him a spot in the hearts of many race fans. As the door closes on an outstanding career one thing is for certain — the door will stay wide open on his charitable efforts. 


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