Joliet, Ill. (June 29, 2019): NASCAR driver and organ donation advocate Joey Gase will attempt to put organ and tissue donation in the winner’s circle at the Camping World 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, June 29. Gase will be racing in honor of his mother, Mary Gase and donor Alyssa Smith. Mary died of a brain aneurysm in April 2011. Just 18 at the time, Joey made the courageous decision to donate her organs, and he has become a staunch advocate for organ and tissue donation ever since.
“When my mom donated her organs and tissue, we thought she would maybe help two or three people,” said Gase. “We found out she helped save and improve the lives of 66 people and met her kidney and liver recipients. It’s crazy to think that these people are alive today thanks to my mom’s gift.”
“Organ donation was something we never really talked about before and we did not have her drivers license with us at the time of her passing but we knew if she could no longer continue her life she would want to so whatever she could to help others continue theirs. Later when we found her drivers license we found that she was already a registered donor,” said Gase. “Seeing that she was registered was a huge relief to us knowing that we made the right decision. Unfortunately, many families are not as lucky and can make the wrong decision. This is why I push so hard for everyone not to only register as an organ donor but also to talk about it with their loved ones.”
Joey is also racing in honor of 16-year-old Alyssa Smith. The Plainfield South High School student was a caring and giving person who loved animals and children. She was passionate about her volunteer work at Hopeful Tails Animal Rescue, Joliet, and at the Little Cougars Preschool at her school. In 2017, Alyssa was in a fatal car accident. Her final act of generosity was being a tissue donor through the Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network.
Joey’s car is regularly adorned with a special logo that honors his mom and pictures of others who have offered the gift of life through donation, making the MBM Motorsports #35 car one of the most unique vehicles in all of NASCAR. Joey’s driver suit and car will also display the Gift of Hope logo in honor of all organ and tissue donors in the state of Illinois.
Joey regularly makes appearances at hospitals and donor awareness-related events to promote donation. He has advocated for organ, tissue and eye donation at more than 100 events, has been featured as a member of the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade, has been featured on ESPN multiple times and done hundreds of donation-related stories for local television, radio and newspaper outlets.
His hard-racing style, humble attitude and willingness to share his story have won him a loyal following at racetracks across the country. He has also developed a strong following on social media and is a popular personality at organ procurement organizations from coast-to-coast. The 200-lap, 300-mile Camping World 300 will be televised live on Saturday on NBC Sports Network at 2:30 p.m. CST. Visit Joey Gase Racing and the NASCAR XFINITY Series websites to learn more about Joey and Saturday’s event.
About Gift of Hope:
Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Donor Network is a not-for-profit organ procurement organization entrusted by the nation’s health care system with coordinating organ and tissue donation and providing donor family services and public education in Illinois and northwest Indiana. Gift of Hope works with 180 hospitals and serves 12 million residents in its donation service area. Celebrating its 30th year as an OPO in 2017, it has coordinated donations that have saved the lives of more than 25,000 organ transplant recipients and improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of tissue transplant recipients. For more information about Gift of Hope and organ and tissue donation, visit giftofhope.org.