When Erik Jones, the 17-year-old NASCAR driving phenom, buckles into the Kyle Busch Motorsports #51 Toyota for the next couple of weekends of racing, his newest partner will be Wake Up Narcolepsy (http://www.wakeupnarcolepsy.org). WUN is a leading international nonprofit dedicated to speeding narcolepsy diagnosis through greater awareness and funding research for a cure to this devastating sleep disorder, which affects millions worldwide.
The #51 Toyota will prominently display the WUN logo at both the sold-out Nashville Fairgrounds All-American 400 Super Late Model event on November 2, and again in the Lucas 150, the November 8 stop of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Phoenix International Speedway.
“Riding alongside Erik is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness about narcolepsy, a devastating sleep disorder affecting 200,000 Americans, including many children and young adults,” said Monica Gow, WUN Executive Director and Co-founder.
“Like our new awareness campaign, and like drivers everywhere, Erik needs to be fully ‘Awake at the Wheel’ as he pilots the #51. We couldn’t be more pleased to be partnering with this up-and-coming star and the KBM garage,” she added. “Erik is at the age at which narcolepsy often first strikes, making our partnership especially apropos.”
Jones said, “I’m proud to be associated with Wake Up Narcolepsy and its mission to help the millions of people living with narcolepsy. When the green flag drops in Nashville and Phoenix, I’ll be pulling out all the stops to get the #51 Toyota into the lead and be right there for the checkered flag. This is a huge opportunity for KBM and WUN!”
Narcolepsy is a neurological sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime sleepiness, which usually first appears in adolescence or young adulthood. Most sufferers also experience episodes of cataplexy, brief but debilitating periods of muscle weakness or complete physical collapse, usually brought on by emotions like laughter or surprise.
The condition can impair virtually every facet of a person’s life, from family and social interactions, to self-esteem and career choice. Though treatment is available, it is not uncommon for 6 or more years to pass before a proper diagnosis is made, robbing the sufferer – and loved ones – of an acceptable quality of life. Some sufferers are never diagnosed.
Shockingly, parents and teachers, as well as many in the medical community – the very people who may first observe symptoms – typically are poorly informed about the condition. So delayed or inaccurate diagnosis is the norm, leading to years of unnecessary suffering. Raising public awareness and building support for medical research helps bring greater understanding of the disorder and speeds treatment for millions.
Jones joined KBM in March 2013. He had made a name for himself a few months earlier when he raced side-by-side for several laps and eventually worked his way past KBM owner Kyle Busch in the closing laps to win the 45th Annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. His victory came in a race widely recognized as the most prestigious late-model event in the country, with a field including NASCAR regulars.
The Michigan native has finished inside the top 10 in all four of his Truck Series starts this season, including a runner-up finish in the July event at Iowa Speedway. In his lone Super Late Model start for KBM, he led a race-high 131 laps en route to victory in the prestigious Winchester 400 at Winchester (IN) Speedway.
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