The month of April is Autism Awareness month and to help increase awareness, NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) driver Stewart Friesen and Halmar Friesen Racing will have a very special paint scheme on the No. 52 HFR Chevrolet Silverado at Dover (Del.) International Speedway for the race on May 3.
Friesen and his wife, Jessica, have a special connection to the cause since their son, Parker, was diagnosed on the autism spectrum shortly after his first birthday. Parker, who is now three years old, attends Crossroads Center for Children in Schenectady, N.Y., and the Friesen family will give back to the school to help Parker and other children by donating proceeds from his special paint scheme at Dover next month.
The Silverado will have 50 puzzle pieces to which supporters can add their names by donating to www.hfrraceforautism.com. For a $1,000 donation, fans can add their name to a puzzle piece on the truck, but items such as t-shirts and decals are available as well for smaller donations. Tax deductible donations to the school would help with technology updates and support, materials for teaching, play and social skills and allowing the school to offer salary and benefits to staff in order to retain dedicated people.
“Jessica and I have been thinking about ways to give back to our local community for a while and the Crossroads Center has done so much for our son, Parker,” Friesen said. “By raising money for them to have the funding they desperately need, it not only helps Parker, but so many kids in our area who are on the autism spectrum or have other developmental needs. We have been thrilled with the support we have received so far, and our goal is to see this Silverado on track at Dover next month with names on all the puzzle pieces.”
“Crossroads is grateful for the support we receive from our community,” said executive director, Kelly Young. “In an attempt to keep up with our public school counterparts, we rely on fundraising and donations to provide the best possible program for our students. We are privileged to serve so many students from across the Capital District. HFR has provided us with a unique opportunity to share our mission and message with a new audience, while raising much needed funds.
“While most students here have diagnoses with autism, we also have children here with other developmental special needs, as well as preschool children who make our daycare/nursery program a wonderfully integrated learning setting for all. Special education and related services are provided, and programming is highly individualized.”