The Infinite Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing critical funding to programs that combat the most difficult front line issues – mental and physical – facing returning military heroes and their families, has announced a special program with Don Schumacher Racing and Terry Chandler in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Infinite Hero, with its founding corporate partner Oakley, have combined forces with Don Schumacher Racing and Chandler to raise awareness and funding for the Foundation during the 2014 Mello Yello season. The Infinite Hero Foundation colors of black and purple will adorn Jack Beckman’s NHRA Funny Car for six races this season.
Beckman will drive the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA SpringNationals near Houston April 25-27, the Toyota NHRA Summernationals in Englishtown May 30-June 1, the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals in Denver July 18-20, the NHRA Carolina Nationals near Charlotte Sept. 12-14, the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals near Dallas Sept. 19-21, and the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas Oct. 31-Nov. 2.
“Infinite Hero was founded to drive innovation, accessibility, and collaboration among organizations combating the most critical issues facing the returning military community,” said Infinite Hero Foundation President and Oakley CEO Colin Baden. “To date, the foundation has donated $1.3 million to eight different organizations across the country and plan to donate $1 million more by Veterans Day (Nov. 11). We are pleased to celebrate our shared progress with the NHRA community and commit to continuing to map a plan for driving change and long-term solutions to improve the lives of veterans across America.”
“The Infinite Hero program honors us by letting us help their wonderful foundation,” Don Schumacher Racing Team Owner Don Schumacher said. “We have worked closely with our friends at Oakley for almost two decades, and partnering with them to help the Infinite Hero program is what makes being involved in NHRA Drag Racing with Oakley even more special. We hope to raise money to help Infinite Hero help the men and women of our military who sacrificed so much for us. Having Infinite Hero on Jack Beckman’s Dodge Charger R/T for six events will bring more awareness to the Infinite Hero Foundation.”
Chandler is funding another DSR Funny Car this season to promote awareness for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“I have been so blessed in my life, and to be able to share that with Make-A-Wish and now the Infinite Hero Foundation is more than I ever could have imagined,” said Chandler. “We owe so much to the men and women of our military for our freedom. Infinite Hero helps them when they come home and also helps their children who are going through the hard times, too. That's what hits my heart, and I'm grateful to be able to bring awareness to this wonderful foundation.”
From left, Jack Beckman; Linfoot and his wife, Mari; Terry Chandler; and Don Schumacher helped unveil the new car. The in-home work by the Linfoots with the exoskeleton project will hugely benefit other handicapped people in the future.
Beckman, a United States Air Force veteran, won the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world championship in 2012 and is a 15-time NHRA Funny Car winner. Through sponsorship from Rodger and Karen Comstock’s Mail Terminal Services, Beckman’s Dodge Charger R/T has carried the message of Wounded Warriors and encouraged NHRA fans to complete a special postcard provided by MTS to send a special message to a soldier injured in Afghanistan or Iraq.
One of the 2013 IHF grant recipients was the Airpower Foundation. With a $100,000 grant from IHF, Chief Warrant Officer 5 (Ret.) Gary Linfoot was the first military hero to receive an Ekso suit for personal use. Ekso is a bionic exoskeleton that enables individuals with paralysis to stand and walk again. Ekso hosts invaluable potential psychological and physical benefits, and Linfoot’s use of the technology will help provide critical data and awareness necessary to expand the availability of the technology beyond its current reach, primarily in hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
Linfoot served as a member of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), home to the Army's best-qualified aviators and support soldiers. In June 2008, during his 19th combat tour in Iraq, Linfoot’s helicopter suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure and crashed. Instantly paralyzed below the waist, Linfoot had permanently lost his motor abilities, yet returned to duty just three months later and culminated his career as the Officer in Charge of the Special Operations Aquatic Training Facility.
Linfoot will demonstrate the exoskeleton at the Denver race, July 18-20, for a collection of owners and corporate sponsors in an effort to galvanize the NHRA community to join the cause under the Infinite Hero banner.
“It is among the greatest honors of my life to receive the first Ekso device,” said Linfoot. “To have the chance to walk again, to see my wife, Mari, eye-to-eye, and hug my children heart-to-heart is a feeling I cannot begin to explain. I’m thrilled to act as an ambassador to help expand this use of this technology in the hopes to one day grant the same life-changing experience to other wounded veterans.”