Anyone who has ever been to a NASCAR event at Richmond International Raceway knows the patriotism runs deep throughout the grandstands. The Saturday, September 8, pre-race ceremony before the Federated Auto Parts 400NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race takes the American spirit up a notch as four U.S. Olympians will join United States Marine Sgt. John Peck to lead the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
· LaShawn Merritt, born in Portsmouth, VA, won two gold medals in 2008 (Beijing): 400m and 4x400m relay. Merritt suffered a hamstring injury two weeks before the London Games and did not finish the 400m qualifying heat.
· Kellie Wells attended James River High School in Richmond and Hampton University. In the 2012 Olympic Games, Wells won a bronze medal in the 100m hurdles.
· Terrence Jennings hails from Alexandria, VA and earned a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympic Games in tae kwon do.
· T’erea Brown, of Hampton, VA, finished 6th in the 400m hurdles in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Sgt. Peck is a United States Marine who lost all four limbs during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan after an IED exploded in 2010. This happened just two years after he tore the right front lobe of his brain when his vehicle ran over an IED. When Peck recovered from his first injuries he felt compelled to go back to be with his brothers in combat. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are building a Smart Home for Peck in Spotsylvania, VA.