Thanks to the efforts of Richard Petty, Aric Almirola and Eckrich smoked meats, 11-year old Samuel Sawyer has a new set of wheels he can race around with. Although not quite what you’d expect to roll out on the “Brickyard” with, the boy, who suffers from spina bifida, felt as if he won the Indy 500 after being presented with a brand new wheelchair styled after the No. 43 Ford Fusionrace car driven by Almirola,* during a special ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend, that also honored his dad, Mike, a 25-year Navy veteran. The chair, painted Petty blue and Eckrich green was also autographed by the two famous racers, and was specifically manufactured to allow Samuel’s dream of playing power soccer come true.
In addition, Eckrich (part of the John Morrell Food Group, a division of Smithfield Foods) announced they will pay the cost needed for Samuel to attend Victory Junction this summer, a children’s camp founded by the Petty family that provides life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment, while Kroger Markets announced it will give the Sawyer Family a year’s worth of free groceries courtesy of Eckrich. The gifts are all part of the continued Eckrich “Operation Inspiration” campaign, which supports and honors military families and “wounded warriors” by providing them with emergency financial and other assistance. To date the company has raised more than $750,000 in donations for the charity.
“Victory Junction is such a special place full of special kids like Samuel,” Almirola stated.”And to have Eckrich help fulfill a dream for him and to give back to our military families is really heartwarming to be a part of. It’s very emotional to see the look on Samuel’s face when he saw the new wheelchair and can go to Victory Junction and be treated like any other child. It’s a great thing that we do with Eckrich and ‘Operation Inspiration’ to honor the whole family. It’s also great that they are receiving groceries for a year at Kroger. That will go a long way. I’m honored to be a part of it.”
Founded in 2004 by the Richard Petty Family in honor of Adam Petty, Victory Junction is a year-round camping environment for children ages six to 16 with serious illnesses, and operates solely through the support of generous donors.
Aric Almirola drives the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force, STP, GoBowling.com and Fresh From Florida and Marcos Ambrose drives the No. 9 Ford Fusion with primary partners STANLEY, DEWALT, Mac Tools and Twisted Tea.