As a kid, one of Denny Hamlin’s best friends was his cousin, Kevin Jones.
They were inseparable and did as much as they could together. But Kevin had to do more just to keep up with Denny and the other kids.
“I was over to his house one morning” Hamlin recalled “and before he ate a bowl of cereal, I remember he had to take a whole bunch of antibiotics. I asked my mom what it was all for.”
Jones has Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic, life-threatening disease that coats the lungs, digestive tract and other areas of the body with thick, sticky mucus. It was Hamlin’s initial desire to help his cousin get better that led to the formation of his charitable foundation who’s primary purpose is to fund research to find a cure for CF.
On Wednesday, the Denny Hamlin Foundation was able to give a $150,000 donation Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help fund cystic fibrosis research and clinical trials for cystic fibrosis in Richmond. It’s exactly the kind of help Hamlin was hoping to be able to give when he started the foundation back in 2008.
"We wanted to get to a point where we could make a healthy donation and try to make a significant difference in CF research" Hamlin said.
“I have been caring for children and adults with cystic fibrosis for more than 35 years and my laboratory has been studying CF and developing new therapies for over 25 years,” said Bruce Rubin, M.D., professor and chair of the VCU Department of Pediatrics and physician-in-chief of Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “This generous donation will help accelerate our ability to bring these therapies to our patients, and the newly established Denny Hamlin Foundation Summer Scholars program will help us train the next generation of CF research scientists.”
Hamlin has been beating the drum for CF research ever since his days racing in the Late Model series at Southside Speedway. Back then, he put a sticker on his back bumper that read "So Close And Yet So Far".
"They are so close to finding a cure for CF" Hamlin said. "It just needs a little spark, some new idea. We know they're so close so that's why we decided to donate, to try and put it over the top."
The main fundraiser for the Foundation is next Thursday's Short Track Showdown at Richmond International Raceway. Hamlin, along with other Sprint Cup stars Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Michael Waltrip will be racing against some of the Mid-Atlantic's best Late Model drivers. Tickets are $25, children under 12 are free. They are available at http://www.rir.com and http://www.dennyhamlinfoundation.org.