Harrisburg, N.C. (May 10, 2016) - - For a decade, Dover International Speedway has done a phenomenal job raising Autism Awareness and now they are collaborating with Artie Kempner’s charitable organization Autism Delaware. JTG Daugherty Racing welcomes running a “Support, Educate, Advocate, Accept, Love” decal to continue raising awareness during the AAA Drive for Autism on Sunday, May 15th. AJ Allmendinger and the No. 47 Bush's Beans Chevrolet SS team are honored to lend its support to the Autism Awareness initiative by adding the names of five special individuals to the car's C-Post that have close personal relationships with team members.   

“Somehow, some way, all of us know someone affected by Autism and Artie has paved the way for Autism Awareness in NASCAR,” Allmendinger said. “It’s pretty special to see all that he has done and all that Dover International Speedway has done to make contributions to the Autism community. This weekend we have some pretty special individual’s names that I will be carrying on my BUSH’S Beans Chevy to add to what they are doing and heighten awareness.”
JTG Daugherty Racing graphic artist Gib Miller added his nephew Cory Schweitzer to the C-Post while rear tire carrier Charles “Chip” Goode included close family friend Joshua Bolick and tire specialist Brian Carrigan placed close personal friend Justin Hartsock on the car too. More recently, account executive Ted Lueders provided his son’s name Alec.
“This is pretty special for the team to do and our family is delighted that Alec’s name will be on the No. 47 BUSH’S Beans Chevrolet in support of Autism Awareness,” Lueders said. “Early detection and intervention is key to help children with Autism reach their full potential. Autism is only a piece of the puzzle. People with Autism have much to offer the world. Autism Awareness is key to making a difference in the lives of families dealing with these challenges. Alec was diagnosed when he was 18 months and has been receiving support and therapy since his diagnosis.  He has come a long way and will be a productive member of the community when he graduates from high school in 2017. Alec loves sports and watches AJ every race weekend.  This is a wonderful gesture and we are grateful.”

Lueders’ story is one that may resonate with many and one couple in particular is Emily and her husband Zachary Stoecker. A year-and-a-half ago their spunky and charming teenage daughter crossed JTG Daugherty Racing’s path at Martinsville Speedway by way of a MRN Radio producer (Craig Moore). Her name is Sophie. Upon the team meeting Sophie, no one really knew that she had defied all odds according to her mother. At age 4, Sophie lost her ability to speak, but slowly regained it. She used a wheelchair until she was 10 and was not given a good prognosis about her future. That did not hold Sophie back and it made her fight harder and today she is team captain for JTG Daugherty Racing.  
“Well, Sophie has proven everyone wrong,” Emily Stoecker said. “NASCAR opened up a world for her, and JTG Daugherty Racing welcomed her with open and loving arms. I can't tell you how many more strides she's made since meeting the team. Her expression, her writing, her desire to grow, she's just blossomed. She feels like she's making a difference and is accepted. Her and her dad (Zachary) thank the team.”

Sophie is the best team captain a team can ever ask for and she is overjoyed having her name on Allmendinger’s No. 47 BUSH’S Beans Chevrolet SS.

"This is probably the biggest thing that has ever happened to me,” said Sophie, who routinely writes inspirational letters to the team. “It's an honor to have my name on my hero's car. Never let anyone tell you that you can't accomplish your dreams because of a challenge of any kind. There is hope for all of us as long as we don't give up" 

There is indeed hope.

“Sophie is a pretty special person and we are thankful for her inspiration,” Allmendinger said. “She’s so intelligent and just an all-around wonderful person. We’re lucky to have her as a part of our team.”

Live coverage of the AAA Drive for Autism kicks off at 1 PM ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM.
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About autism spectrum disorder and Autism Delaware:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that includes impairment in social interaction and social communication. Individuals with ASD also exhibit repetitive patterns of behavior or interest that limit everyday functioning. An intellectual or language impairment is also possible. All these symptoms will first appear in early childhood.

According to the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), any individual with a well-established DSM-4 diagnosis should be given the diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder,” or ASD, for short. (In the DSM-4, the diagnoses included classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder–not otherwise specified [PDD–NOS]). ASD is categorized by severity on a scale of one to three.

Autism Delaware is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit made up of individuals with ASD, their family members, the professionals who serve them, and friends of people with ASD. The agency’s mission is to help people and families affected by ASD. With offices in Newark, Dover, and Lewes, Autism Delaware serves the entire state.

Autism Delaware’s programs and services are supported by state contracts and generous donations from individuals and corporations across Delaware. Fundraising events, like the Walk for Autism, help provide the income needed to make critical programs a reality. For more information on how to help, visit autismdelaware.org.