Robert Weaver wins the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award
The NASCAR Foundation announced that Robert Weaver, an 83-year old Talladega, Ala.-native, has won the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The announcement was made by The NASCAR Foundation Founder and Chairwoman, Betty Jane France, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 2, culminating the Champion's Week celebration in Las Vegas.
|Robert Weaver with his trophy|
|Getty Images for NASCAR|
“There was a clear common thread with not only our finalists but every single one of our nominees,” said Betty Jane France. “All of them had made a significant impact on the lives of children through volunteerism or charitable work during the last five years. There also was another important thread: All of our nominees love NASCAR.
“The fans have chosen Robert Weaver, a man who really personifies what this award is all about. It is a true honor to announce Robert as our inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner.”
Weaver, who is known across the Talladega region as the "Ice Cream Man" because of the many treats he delivers to deaf, blind and multi-disabled students, received the most votes among four finalists during a NASCAR nationwide fan vote on NASCAR.com and the mobile voting site developed by Sprint.
“I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected the inaugural recipient of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award and thank NASCAR, The NASCAR Foundation and the France family for making this possible,” said Weaver. “I have often said that I don’t hit home runs; I just do little things. It is the little things that matter so much in people’s lives. As I look back over my own life, working with the children of Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind has been part of my calling – it is why I was put on this earth. I encourage everyone to find something they are passionate about and commit to making a difference – you’re never too young or old to start.”
As the winner of the inaugural Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, Weaver received an expense-paid trip to the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas, a 2012 Ford Explorer from Ford and $100,000 from The NASCAR Foundation for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation – his children’s charity of choice.
During his time in Vegas, Weaver joined the other Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award finalists for the “red carpet treatment” leading up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony. Some of the events they took part in included riding in a Ford Explorer driven by NASCAR President Mike Helton in the NASCAR Victory Lap event, where the top 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers parade down the Las Vegas strip in their race cars; and taking pictures with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart at Wynn Las Vegas before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony on Friday.
The award recognizes outstanding charitable and volunteer efforts of selfless NASCAR fans, which is exemplified by Weaver’s work. He has been volunteering with the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind Foundation (AIDB) for more than 50 years. In addition to his monthly charitable endeavors, he dedicates 30 hours a week to helping children in the organization. His many contributions range from creating intramural basketball teams and bowling programs to teaching students how to ride tricycles. Also a passionate NASCAR fan, Weaver once was able to pair his hobby and his volunteer work when his favorite driver, Darrell Waltrip, hosted the AIDB's annual fundraiser in 1986 – thanks to a request from Weaver himself.
The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award honors the passionate commitment The NASCAR Foundation Chairwoman Betty Jane France has demonstrated on behalf of charities and community works throughout her life. France, the mother of NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, is credited with creating the "Speediatrics" concept, a pediatric unit with a racing-themed décor at both the Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., and the Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla.
The other three finalists for the award included 17-year-old St. Louis, Mo. resident Jake Bernstein; Patty Aber from Middletown, N.J.; and Columbus, Ohio native Brenda Doner. All three received $25,000 donations from The NASCAR Foundation to apply to a children's charity of their choice, as well as expense-paid trips to Las Vegas for Champion's Week.