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NF Hero Travis Carpenter Accompanied Jeff Hanson to Las Vegas for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Awards Gala

By December 14, 2015February 27th, 2024Awards & Grants

NF Hero Travis Carpenter had the pleasure and the joy of joining philanthropic artist and fellow NF Hero Jeffrey Owen Hanson in Las Vegas for The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Awards Gala, an award that honors one dedicated NASCAR fan who has made a profound impact on children by volunteering in his or her local community. Jeff, nominated by the Children’s Tumor Foundation, received the most online votes out of four finalists who competed in a nationwide contest that lasted for nearly two months, and was announced the winner.

Travis’ mom, Kelly, wrote about her family’s experience in Las Vegas.

Viva Las Vegas! We all know that Travis is a racer trapped in a kid’s body. T, as his family affectionately calls him, enjoys most every aspect about racing, particularly meeting the drivers. Many of Travis’ medical professionals notice a positive change in Travis after spending time at racetracks, even watching races while in the hospital drives his healing. Any combination of racing and the Children’s Tumor Foundation reveals a “win” for Travis; adding in a NASCAR element with Jeff Hanson as a finalist for the 2015 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award created an entire new dimension.

Each of the four finalists and the child representing their respective charities received a trip to the Sprint Cup NASCAR Champions Week and Awards Banquet in Las Vegas. The smile on his face upon learning he would attend the NASCAR Awards Banquet remains etched in our minds. Thank you Kenny Wallace! Travis’ excitement for Champions Week grew as he followed his favorite NASCAR driver, Kyle Busch, through NASCAR’s new Chase format that ultimately crowned Kyle Busch as Sprint Cup Champion. Beyond cheering as a fan, Travis empathizes with Kyle as they both faced (and overcame) huge challenges this year.

Travis met his first NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr, at the Nationwide luncheon for the finalists and their guests. Travis’ excitement to meet his dad’s favorite driver spilled out as he told Junior, “My dad likes you.” (Photo Right: Travis, Jeff Hanson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.)

Travis created race car pictures to hand to Jeff Gordon, who retired at the end of this season, and Kyle Busch. During the VIP reception for the finalists and their guests Travis spotted Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, and many of the other 16 NASCAR drivers that qualified for the Chase. On his way to retrieve the pictures, Travis stopped at Jeff Gordon, commented, “I did my book report on you,” and walked away to get the picture. (Photo Left: Jeff Gordon and Travis)

After giving Jeff Gordon his picture, Travis found Kyle Busch. He and Kyle talked for a few minutes and Kyle learned about Travis’ racing passion, compassion and empathy, in addition to receiving the picture. Of all the wonderful events in Travis’ life, this interaction ranks very high on the list. (Photo Right: Travis and Kyle Busch)

Throughout the rest of the events, Travis met and took pictures with more NASCAR drivers including: Ryan Newman (drove a CTF car at Sonoma in 2012), Jimmy Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, and Brad Keselowski. Travis thoroughly enjoyed meeting the different NASCAR drivers, Betty Jane France, and others in the NASCAR racing world. He shared his knowledge of and favorite parts of racing with each of them.

In addition to meeting the drivers, Travis enjoyed getting to know the other finalists and the kids representing each foundation. They would spend time together playing games over the next few days and forming new friendships.

Friday finally arrived, the day of the announcement of the 2015 winner of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. Travis campaigned for Jeff daily since voting opened, knowing a well-deserved win for Jeff would also benefit CTF. Travis cruised the red carpet in his power chair sporting his tuxedo and Jeff Hanson tie and cummerbund, even warming up the crowd for the drivers. (Photo Left: Travis with his mom Kelly and the Gala host on the Red Carpet)

Throughout the videos shown at the awards banquet, Travis recited facts about the drivers, tracks, and races. I think this helped him pass the time until the big announcement. Travis felt amazed, excited, overjoyed when Betty Jane France announced Jeff as the 2015 winner. The NASCAR Foundation staff immediately took Jeff and Travis from the banquet room to the stage. Travis thought it was “cool” to be on stage in front of some of his favorite race car drivers. (Photo Right: Ryan Newman and Travis)

We watch Travis reflect on his Racing4Research memories to persevere through the complications NF throws in his path. It never ceases to amaze me how Travis’ spirit increases and rejuvenates with racing. For those moments, he’s a kid discussing his passion with others who share the same love. Tears fill my eyes as I watch him immerse himself in enthusiasm and escape from his NF challenges.

Champions Week…no better title exists for this experience. Watching the light return to Travis’ eyes as he saw and talked with the people he watches every week on TV, WOW!!