Driving for a Cause - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Posted: Friday, March 17, 2017 1:00 am | Updated: 4:26 pm, Fri Mar 17, 2017.

For the past 15 years, we have had the unique opportunity of hosting the championship races in each of NASCAR’s three national series during Ford Championship Weekend in November. And while Ford Championship Weekend lets us celebrate the best drivers in the world competing for titles in their respective series, the three-day race weekend is only one of many moments throughout the year where we honor champions.

One of those other opportunities occurs each year, just prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race, when we award grants to charitable foundations in the South Florida community who work to go above and beyond in their efforts of supporting youth development and education. The grants we provide are part of Driving for a Cause, Homestead-Miami Speedway’s charitable outreach program. Since

Driving for Cause began its grant program in 2013, a total of 18 local 501(c) (3) charities have been recipients of these grants, with last year’s group of six receiving more than a combined $40,000.

For the fifth consecutive year, South Florida 501(c) (3) charities and organizations can apply to Driving for a Cause’s grant program, as we are currently in the process of receiving grant applications and identifying those organizations who will be a part of the class of 2017. We encourage local charities who meet the qualifications to apply. Those interested can find applications at www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com/DrivingForACause.

One of the organizations to receive a grant in 2016 was Prospera, formerly known as Hispanic Business Initiative Fund. Prospera, which founded its Miami office in 2011, benefits young entrepreneurs and low-to-moderate income level families to work on developing a solid foundation for opening up a business.

With the grant, Prospera has been able to turn their focus to the City of Homestead since the beginning of 2017. In fact, last Wednesday Prospera hosted their first of two seminars, which the grant is sponsoring. The event was held at the Miami-Dade Public Library- Homestead Branch, where more than 20 attendees from the local community were able to learn from a guest speaker, who educated them on the nature of opening up their own business and the emotional obstacles that can go along with it.

Through the seminars, Prospera’s goal is to help disenfranchised youth follow their business dreams even though they may not have the financial capital to support it. The result would create another avenue and source of economic growth within the Homestead community.

Miami Bridge Youth and Family Services, another grant recipient in 2016, has been serving South Florida for more than 30 years by providing shelter to children in crisis situations. With last year’s grant donation from Driving for a Cause, they have been able to continue to provide care and also oversee the well-being of those children. The grant was earmarked for their Medical Services department, which has allowed them to purchase professional grade medical equipment that helps them accurately assess children upon their admission.

The equipment purchased – AED defibrillators, vital monitors, thermometers and weight scales – helps nurses from both of Miami Bridge’s locations (Homestead and Miami) point out any potential health red flags from the children when they are admitted. Each year, the organization admits as many as 1,000 children, with some staying at the facility between 19-30 days. In addition to assessing the youth upon admission, the medical equipment is also utilized on a day-to-day basis in managing and maintaining the health of the children.

Florida International University Foundation Formula SAE is a student-run organization that also received a grant in 2016. The organization focuses on applying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles learned in the classroom on their very own open cockpit racecar. Every two years, the students build their own racecar from the ground up, and using the grant, they were able to design and manufacture their own chassis and suspension for the vehicle. The grant provided about one-third of the total cost of putting together the car.

In May, the students will be taking their racecar on the road to Michigan International Speedway, as they compete against more than 130 other Formula SAE teams from around the country in a national event. The students will be judged on many different elements of the vehicle, including design, acceleration and aerodynamics. Following their competition, the students will give back to the community by taking their “Engineers on Wheels” campaign to South Florida elementary, middle and high schools to teach youth about STEM programs.

Driving for a Cause and its grant program has allowed us to continue our dedication of making a lasting impact on the South Florida community, and we look forward to crowning champions of many outstanding causes in 2017.

NASCAR ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Sunday, March 19

at 3:30 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway

Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Saturday, March 18

at 4:00 PM (ET)

NASCAR XFINITY Series DC Solar 200 at Phoenix Raceway

Tune In: FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

*The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is off this week and will return April 1*

UPCOMING EVENTS AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Mar. 18

Performance Driving Group

Mar. 19

Miami Exotic Auto Racing

Mar. 25-26

Porsche and BMW Owners Club

Apr. 1-2

Formula & Automobile Racing Association

Apr. 7-9

Trans Am Series & F4 U.S. Championship

Apr. 21

Fast Lane Friday Presented by the Ticket Clinic

2017 HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY NASCAR DATES

Nov. 17

Ford EcoBoost 200 Camping World Truck Series Championship Race

Nov. 18

Ford EcoBoost 300 XFINITY Series Championship Race

Nov. 19

Ford EcoBoost 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race

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