Press Release from Front Row Motor Sports:
Statesville, N.C. (June 14, 2001) – Travis Kvapil’s No. 38 Ford will go to Michigan International Speedway this week with a special tribute to the memory of Wes Leonard – the Fennville (Mich.) High School basketball player who died of a heart ailment just after scoring a game-winning basket.
The No. 38 Ford, which will be sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), will carry the logo of the Wes Leonard Heart Team on its rear quarter panels. The foundation was set up in the superstar’s memory to honor children who have lost their lives to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and to prevent similar tragedies from occurring. Leonard’s parents, brother and grandparents and members of the foundation will be special guests of the No. 38 team at Sunday’s Heluva Good Sour Cream Dips 400.
The FCA, the largest Christian sports organization in America, joins Front Row in paying tribute to the Fennville star and the foundation formed in his memory. The campus ministry feels Leonard exemplified the FCA’s four values: integrity, serving, teamwork and excellence.
“FCA appreciates the opportunity to partner with Travis Kvapil and Front Row Motorsports in honoring the life and family of Wes Leonard,” said FCA representative Scott Galyon. “Wes’ life reminds us that each day is a gift and each moment should be treasured. May we all seek to live our life to the fullest and for God’s glory.”
The family and foundation hope the public attention will raise more awareness for their cause, so no parent will have to go through what they endured.
“No parent should have to watch their child die – ever,” said Jocelyn Leonard, Wes’ mother. “You cannot look at someone and say how young they are, or they are so fit. You have to look at the distress signs you are seeing and react accordingly. All gyms and schools should have working AEDs and staff that have an emergency response plan to put that life-saving equipment into use.”
Learn more about the Wes Leonard Heart Team at www.wesleonardheartteam.org.
Comments from FCA driver Travis Kvapil on racing at Michigan for the Wes Leonard Heart Team:
“It’s definitely a story that touches a lot of people’s hearts. For us, Front Row Motorsports and Bob Jenkins (owner), along with the FCA, we just want to raise awareness that kids have potentially fatal heart conditions. And for his family and his organization, we just want to raise some awareness for him and help support their cause. Like I said, it’s a very touching story so we just want to go out and do a good job and support Wes’s family and his foundation.
“I have kids and, in fact, I have a teenage daughter who’s just a little younger than Wes was when he died. As a parent, you see your kids running around, looking as healthy as can be, you don’t think that something might be wrong. And that was the case with Wes and his family. Helping the Wes Leonard Heart Team will bring awareness to the need for better screening to find those red flags that a lot of times parents and coaches, and even doctors, might not normally see.
“This is a place where we can definitely have a good run for them. Michigan is a track I really enjoy going to. I had some success, won a couple of truck races there and had some decent runs in the cup cars. It’s also neat because it’s Ford’s backyard so we definitely want to have a good run for them, too, and show them that our team is improving. It’s definitely a place, similar to a mile-and-a-half track, where you have to have a good handling racecar through the corner but it definitely takes some good horsepower down the straight-aways there.
“We feel like our handling package is getting better. We’re definitely making improvement and we know we have great horsepower under the hood with Roush-Yates Engines. They’re phenomenal. I’m excited to go there, it’s a fun track to race, another track where you can spread out and move around, run three or four different lanes pretty easily. If you have a fast racecar you can find your way to the front.”
About Front Row Motorsports:
Front Row Motorsports is a Statesville, N.C.-based race team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Formed in 2005 by restaurant entrepreneur Bob Jenkins, the team has competed in NASCAR racing in each year since its inception, expanding full-time to the premier Sprint Cup Series in 2009. The team partners with Ford Racing and Roush-Yates Racing Engines to field the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford driven by David Gilliland and the No. 38 Long John Silver’s Ford driven by Travis Kvapil.
About the Fellowship of Christian Athletes:
The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is touching millions of lives… one heart at a time. Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in America. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.