CONCORD, N.C. (June 17, 2011) – The Lollipop Theater Network and the Tennessee chapter of the ALS Association are the newest additions to the 2011 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Helmet of Hope, which Johnson will wear in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Richmond International Raceway in September.
Each organization will also receive a grant of $10,000.
Billy Bush, host of Access Hollywood, nominated the Lollipop Theater Network, an organization dedicated to bringing the magic of movies currently in theaters to children confined to hospitals nationwide due to chronic or life-threatening illnesses.
“LOLLIPOP’s screenings of movies currently in theaters provides an escape from the often tedious (and sometimes unpleasantly eventful) days children face in the hospital,” Bush wrote on his nomination form. “Children often anticipate the theatrical release of their favorite movie months in advance. For children confined in hospitals, it’s truly a thrill to be able to watch a movie currently in theaters – sometimes with a visit from the actors they see onscreen. By improving quality of life for hospitalized children, LOLLIPOP leaves them better equipped to fight their illnesses.”
Justin Ballew of Manchester, Pa. nominated the Tennessee Chapter of the ALS Association. ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) is a motor neuron disease that most commonly strikes people between ages 40-70. As many as 30,000 Americans are suffering from ALS at any given time. The disease weakens all the muscles in the body making mobility impossible, and eventually affects the patient’s swallowing and breathing. There is no current cure for ALS, and it is usually fatal within 2-5 years of diagnosis.
Ballew said that he’d never thought anything about ALS until his mother in Tenn. was diagnosed last year. “I have learned quickly that it swiftly limits your mobility and affects everyone around you. Most importantly, I have learned that research, funding, and publicity for ALS is minimal. Most advances for ALS have been in the last decade, and grants lead to research and hopefully someday a cure for this dreaded disease,” wrote Ballew.
In its fourth year, the Helmet of Hope program gives fans and media members across the country the opportunity to nominate their charity of choice to be featured on Johnson’s helmet for a select race. Each charity also receives a grant of $10,000. To date, the program has contributed close to $200,000 to 37 different charities.
Johnson will draw one winner from a list of media submissions and one from a list of fan submissions each race weekend through the New Hampshire event in July. The Lollipop Theater Network and the Tennessee Chapter of the ALS Association join 24 Hours of Booty and the Flagler County Education Foundation as charities that will be featured on the Helmet of Hope. The American Red Cross, which was placed on the helmet to kick off the event in response to recent tragedies across the nation, and Lowe’s Toolbox for Education, which the Jimmie Johnson Foundation partners with to fund Champions Grants, which are awarded to K-12 public schools in the hometowns where the Johnsons grew up and currently live, will also be featured.