CONCORD, N.C. -- Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson announced the launch of the 2016 Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope campaign, which will award $125,000 to five non-profit organizations in May, during a press conference Friday morning at Phoenix International Raceway.
Johnson was joined by Mike Wells, president and CEO of Wells Enterprises, maker of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, and representatives from 2015 Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope recipient organization The Be Kind People Project, to reveal that not-for-profit (501c3) organizations that directly support K-12 public education will be eligible to compete for one of the five available $25,000 grants.
"The generosity and uniqueness of the Jimmie Johnson Foundation Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program engaged and involved our volunteers, our schools, and our community in a way that no other effort has ever done,” said Bo Whittenton of The Be Kind People Project, a 2015 grant recipient. “Thousands of teachers and students were impacted because of this grant. The program was easy, fun, and something that everyone felt they could be a part in helping to promote our work.”
The Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program, which began in 2008, allows fans and consumers across the country to nominate their favorite education-focused charities, including Parent/Teacher Associations, to receive a $25,000 grant, a Blue Bunny ice cream party, and special recognition on Johnson’s race helmet. Nominations will be accepted at www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org through Thursday, April 14. Ten semifinalists will be selected from these nominations. The public vote to choose the final five grant recipients will take place April 29 – May 6.
“Chandra (wife) and I are grateful to Blue Bunny and the Wells Family for partnering with us again this year to support these essential programs,” Johnson said. “We always look forward to learning about the great charities that are nominated and the amazing work they do in support of K-12 public education across the country. It’s an exciting opportunity, and we encourage everyone to nominate and then vote. We feel fortunate to have the ability to use my helmet to raise awareness for these causes and have a little fun in the process.”
To date, the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope program has contributed more than $810,000 to 81 different charities.
“Blue Bunny is proud to partner with Jimmie and Chandra as title sponsor of Helmet of Hope,” Wells said. “Our participation in the Helmet of Hope program for the last five years has given us exposure to some of the most amazing programs across the country that are contributing to academic success for kids. It is truly an honor to be able to support the mission and work of these organizations.”
Johnson will take to the track this weekend at Phoenix in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS. He will wear the Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope during the Sprint Cup Series race August 7 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International Speedway.
For additional information and to nominate a charity, visit www.jimmiejohnsonfoundation.org.