Story By: JENNIFER QUATTROCCHI / NASCAR – LAS VEGAS, NV – Carl Dakes, a longtime volunteer with the Maryland-based Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, has been chosen by an online fan vote as the winner of The NASCAR Foundation’s eighth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.
Dakes was presented with the award on Thursday night during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas. The award honors the philanthropic ideals and vision of The NASCAR Foundation’s late chairperson and is annually presented to a NASCAR fan who embodies those ideals through community service.
Dakes, of Harwood, Md., will receive a $100,000 donation for Believe In Tomorrow, which provides exceptional hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families. Headquartered in Catonsville, Believe In Tomorrow has served children from all 50 states, with nearly 2,500 children directly benefitting from the organization’s efforts each year.
The NASCAR Foundation also will donate $25,000 to each of the charities represented by three award finalists: Sarah Kersey of Dublin, Ohio, who represents Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio; Cliff Preston of Gainesville, Fla., representing UF Health Shands; and Rex Reynolds of Hazel Green, Ala., representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of North Alabama.
“This year’s finalists once again showed the passion of NASCAR fans to help others by their actions,” said The NASCAR Foundation Chairman Mike Helton. “Their commitment to their individual causes represent well the spirit and essence of the Betty Jane France Award Humanitarian Award and we thank each of them.”
“All four finalists resonated with our fans as represented in the close online voting but when it ended, Carl Dakes emerged as the winner.”
Dakes is a commercial painting contractor and has approached a number of Believe In Tomorrow facility painting projects with a NASCAR-type mindset, likening the different jobs to paint schemes on race cars while accenting vibrant colors, dynamic design and individuality. He has personally volunteered time and resources to paint eight different Believe in Tomorrow facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region. He has received Believe in Tomorrow’s most prestigious in-house honor, the Unsung Hero Award.
His NASCAR fandom traces to the 1980s and a chance invitation to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for the classic camping/racing NASCAR experience – which was a transformative moment for him. Dakes returns to Pocono annually to renew friendships and relive that experience.
Since the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award’s inception in 2011, The NASCAR Foundation has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 children by providing $1.4 million in contributions to charities represented by award finalists.