DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 23, 2010) Sixteen-year-old Allyson Long and her family are big racing fans, but they never expected to find themselves on Pit Road prior to the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway July 3rd.
Through the intervention of The Darrell Gwynn Foundation, the Middleburg, Fla., family will be front and center on the pre-race stage for driver introductions, where they’ll be joined by Darrell Gwynn and “The King” Richard Petty who, together, will present Allyson with a brand new $22,000 custom power wheelchair before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Allyson suffers from Fibrodysplasis Ossificans Progressiva, a disease that causes her joints, tendons and muscle to turn to bone at a painful, progressive rate. An 11th grade student, Allyson goes to “school” through a special Hospital Homebound program. As her muscles and tendons continue to harden, however, Allyson’s body remains stuck in whatever position she was in as the disease progressed, severely impacting her already limited lifestyle. For comfort, she requires an expensive, custom-fitted wheelchair.
When the Long family sought help for Allyson, the Petty Family Foundation referred them to Gwynn’s organization, which was formed to enhance awareness, prevention, and support, and underwrite research to find a cure for paralysis. Gwynn established his foundation after his own tragic accident that left him paralyzed.
In solidarity with The Darrell Gwynn Foundation, Richard Petty will be on hand at the Speedway to join Gwynn for the wheelchair presentation. An inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, winner of 200 races, seven Daytona 500s, and seven NASCAR Cup Championships, Petty is the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR racing.
“We are thrilled that the generosity of our supporters enables us to give Allyson the gift of enhanced mobility and acknowledge Richard and the Petty Family Foundation for bringing this young ‘hero’ to our attention,” said Gwynn.
“Special thanks to ‘The King’ for joining us in presenting Allyson with her own new set of ‘wheels’ as our nation celebrates its Independence Day,” he added. “Allyson is a real fighter and an inspiration to everyone who faces difficulties in life. Despite all the challenges she must face, she continues her studies and lives life to its fullest.”
A former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) champion, Gwynn dedicated his life to prevention of spinal cord injuries after a near-fatal accident in 1990. Now 48 and living near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he oversees the foundation he and his wife Lisa established to raise money earmarked for educational programs on paralysis, providing long-term health services for spinal cord injury patients and funding paralysis research. As one element of that outreach, The Darrell Gwynn Foundation Wheelchair Donation Program to date has provided deserving individuals throughout Florida and across the country with approximately $1 million in customized, high-tech wheelchairs.
About Darrell Gwynn Foundation
The Darrell Gwynn Foundation is a Davie, Fla.-based non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization established by former National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) champion Darrell Gwynn to support individuals with spinal cord injuries and other debilitating illnesses. The Foundation’s mission is to Provide Awareness, Prevention, Support, and Ultimately a Cure for Paralysis. To expedite specific cures, The Foundation assists in the funding of targeted research.
For more information about The Foundation and the programs it supports, visit www.darrellgwynnfoundation.org or call 954-792-7223.
# # #
Editors: On July 3 just prior to the Coke Zero 400, Darrell Gwynn and Richard Petty will present Allyson with a new, customized motorized wheelchair, courtesy of the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. The presentation will take place at approximately 6:50 p.m. on the Pre-Race Stage.