Kennedy and Zipadelli Raise $20,000 for Pediatric Cancer Awareness and Research

It all started with a tweet. Ben Kennedy, driver of the No. 11 Local Motors Toyota Tundra, and crew chief Scott Zipadelli raised $20,000 for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation last weekend at Kansas Speedway. This Wednesday, Kennedy and Zipadelli will attend the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Catwalk for a Cause and present the check.


Kennedy was in Kansas on April 21 to promote last weekend's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and was given a SpongeBob SquarePants adult onesie pajama set. He playfully tweeted at Zipadelli that he'd found his uniform for the weekend, as it closely matched Kennedy's Bikini-Bottom-themed fire suit.


Zipadelli responded via Twitter with a challenge of his own; if Kennedy could raise $10,000 in support of pediatric cancer awareness and research, Zipadelli would wear the onesie pajamas during the Kansas race.


"Pediatric cancer awareness means a lot to me since my daughter was diagnosed with cancer three years ago," said Zipadelli. "Anytime I can use what I do for a living to try bring awareness, I try to make it happen. It's pretty cool, and more so, really amazing. The coolest thing was after all the people had donated more than $10,000, Nickelodeon was so gracious and impressed that they donated as well."


Kennedy had visited a children's hospital in Kansas earlier in the day and spent time with several pediatric cancer patients, and the cause touched him as well. And, race car drivers are nothing, if not competitive, so Kennedy accepted the challenge.

The 23-year-old Daytona Beach, Fla., native immediately set up a fundraising page online and connected with the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation to contribute any funds raised to their mission of helping children with cancer.

"I thought the challenge was a great way to bring awareness to a good cause and to have a little fun with our paint scheme for the weekend," said Kennedy. "It's unbelievable that we were able to raise $20,000 and I'm thankful to everyone that donated or helped us get the word out."

In just 11 days, thanks to industry social media and media support, Kennedy raised more than 80 percent of the goal, but was still short funds on the day of the race. However, Kansas Speedway stepped in with the remaining funds and met the goal.

Kennedy's Toyota Tundra carried all of the characters from popular children's cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants last weekend in conjunction with the entitlement sponsorship of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, and when Nickelodeon executives heard about the challenge and the money raised, they decided to match the amount, bringing the total donation to $20,000.


Zipadelli did indeed wear the onesie for the race, however, Kennedy's night was cut short when debris on the grille caused the truck to overheat.

Even though the goal has been reached, those interested can still donate to the cause until May 15, by visiting the fundraiser page at

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Steven B. Wilson

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