Making dreams true is a large part of an athlete’s life. Giving back to the community, especially during the summer months, has created a focal point for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Ragan and his efforts with Shriners Hospital for Children.
Ragan has been an ambassador for the hospital since 2007, when he was competing as a rookie for Roush Fenway Racing. In 2012, he officially became a Shriner after being inducted into the Shriners International fraternity as an Oasis Shriners member, and has evolved his relationship to help children across the country – visiting a handful of the hospital’s locations.
“Out of the 22, I’ve probably visited seven or eight of the hospitals over the past four to five,” Ragan explained in an interview with Speedway Digest. “If we can work it in our schedule and visit some, that is always a lot of fun. I have a family member being a Shriner and I’ve heard him talk about all of the good things and people that he has been able to meet over the years.”
The latest program that Ragan is working on is Shriners’ On Track for a Safe Summer campaign, which looks to tackle injuries that occur over the summer months. According to a Safe Kids Worldwide safety ranking in 2007, 40 percent of children that go to the emergency room for injuries happen between May and August.
Working with the hospital, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver has helped change the lives of multiple children. His latest endeavor involves 14-year-old Brandon Wisely.
At seven years old, the young racecar driver lost his foot and a large portion of his leg due to a lawnmower accident. After being told he wouldn’t race again, Wisely received a custom prosthetic leg with help from Shriners, and has since been back on track.
“Shriners made me a prosthetic leg and now I go back every six to seven months to make sure it still fits right and everything,” Wisely explained. “They helped me get back on the track and race some more. Hopefully, I’ll get up here with David and maybe beat him some. [My friends] tell me I am an encouragement to them and that they are not going to give up on themselves for little things and keep working hard.”
As the two continue to inspire others across America, they have reminded people to keep an eye out for any possible injury risks. With National Safety Month here, Ragan plans to continue to advocate the message using his presence in NASCAR with MWR.
Here is an exclusive look at our interview with Ragan and Wisely: