Joey Gase was just 18 years old and was focused on graduating high school and making it into NASCAR when it happened, transforming him from an aspiring NASCAR driver to one who'd never share a victory lane with his mom.
Todd Crawford was a suburban dad, the patriarch of a family with two young boys and a wife – Lisa Colagrossi – a well-known anchor/reporter with ABC News known for her stellar journalism skills and love of her family. Then it happened to them, shattering their world.
Konrad Reuland was a tight end working his way back into the NFL. He spent last fall getting into the best shape of his life while also launching a business career, just in case his playing days were done. It happened to him over Thanksgiving weekend.
The cruel tie that binds is a brain aneurysm, and if you're not really sure what that means, you're not alone. Most people don't understand it, which is why the efforts of The Lisa Colagrossi Foundation (TLCF) and Joey Gase Racing are so important.
TLCF is the nation's leading organization promoting awareness and understanding of brain aneurysms, which are essentially bubbles in the brain. When they burst, people usually die – such as Joey's mom, Todd's wife Lisa and Konrad himself.
The result doesn’t have to be so drastic. TLCF's aim is to spread the warning signs, especially the one Lisa herself ignored: "The worst headache of life." Had she seen a doctor, she might be alive today.
How does all this connect with NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
The hood of Joey's car will feature TLCF’s logo and color scheme and a picture of Konrad, whose story made headlines in April when it was revealed that his heart and kidney were transplanted into Baseball Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Konrad’s parents will attend the race with TLCF’s leader for what is sure to be a very emotional experience.
Teaching this important message and sharing these powerful human dramas is enough to make this a story worth telling.
But there’s more, too – including some drama that’s still unfolding:
You see, The Lisa Colagrossi Foundation spearheaded a partnership and is set to race with Gase in the XFINITY Series for now but needs additional money to make the jump to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday. TLCF already has raised half the funds thanks to various donations, but another $25,000 is needed by July 12 to get Joey to the starting line on Sunday to race in the famed and historic Brickyard 400. The added exposure of the main event would be worth every penny to the underwriter. After all, they’ll not only be seen by millions, they’ll also be lauded for swooping in and saving the day, allowing Gase to show off his skills against the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and the rest of NASCAR’s top drivers.
In addition to saving room on the car for the hoped-for angel investor, TLCF is offering fans the opportunity to help. For a $100 donation (made at lisafoundation.org), up to 200 people can put a name on the car via an awareness ribbon. A photo of the ribbon and the car will be emailed to each donor as a thank-you. If you would like to purchase a ribbon, please visit lisafoundation.org/home/brickyard-2017/.
“Imagine watching Joey’s car go around the track and people learning about the paint scheme and what it all represents,” said Crawford, Founder and Executive Director of TLCF. “I get goose bumps just thinking about it. Forward thinking partners have made this partnership possible and it’s a very unique way for people affected by brain aneurysms to honor a loved one who’s been lost or is a survivor.”
Many notable personalities who've been affected by brain aneurysms already have secured awareness ribbons, including T.J. Jones of the Detroit Lions (lost a parent to a brain aneurysm), retired NFL players Tommie Harris (lost his wife) and Albert Haynesworth (survivor), and fellow survivors such as chef Mario Batali and actress Maryam Dabo (“Bond girl”).
“The way I see it, Joey’s car will have a special boost at the Brickyard,” said Crawford. “The angels riding along will make sure he stays out of harm’s way and hopefully give him a jolt of extra horsepower. The unscripted drama of motorsports converging with the tragedy of these families makes this one of the most moving sports stories I can think of.”
The Lisa Colagrossi Foundation PR