Foundation series

The Erik Jones Foundation donates to melanoma research in memory of dad


Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, MI — August 7, 2022

The local kid is doing good! Is the perfect description of Erik Jones, the Byron, Michigan native turned NASCAR Cup Series winning driver. Facing a number of challenges early in his NASCAR career, Erik overcame every obstacle that stood in his way to becoming a rising star in the world of stock car racing.

Since the age of 13, Erik Jones has been driving a racing car. At 15, he was the youngest driver ever to compete in the ARCA series. He caught the eye of NASCAR regular Kyle Busch when he defeated the superstar by winning the famous Snowball Derby.

Signed to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Erik was named NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year and became NASCAR Champion winning the title in 2015. After Rookie of the Year honors in the Xfinity Series and Cup Series, Jones had risen to the pinnacle of the sport as a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Cup.

Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Jones earned his first career Cup win at Daytona in 2018. He followed that up with a victory at Darlington the following year. Conquer two of the toughest tracks on the NASCAR circuit.

Racing now for NASCAR Legend and team owner Richard Petty, Jones is behind the wheel of the iconic 43, breathing new life into a franchise that needed a touch of star power to propel them to the front of the peloton on Sunday.

Erik Jones speaks to the media at Michigan International Speedway/Lasco Press Photo

give back

A year ago, NASCAR Cup Series driver Erik Jones started his own charitable foundation in his home state of Michigan. With Jones back in the Great Lakes State to race at Michigan International Speedway in the FireKeepers Casino 400, the Erik Jones Foundation has proudly donated $20,000 to the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma.

Encouraging the early detection and care of cancer is one of the three pillars of the Erik Jones Foundation, along with advocating for literacy and promoting animal welfare. But cancer detection and care has been a priority for Jones since his father, Dave, succumbed to the disease in 2016.

“In February 2016, my dad was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma, and four months later he was gone,” Jones, 26, said. “Even with radiotherapy and immunotherapy, the cancer has spread. It was quite aggressive. And what I’ve learned since is how important early detection is, because the sooner you diagnose it, the more treatment options you have.

“That’s how I found out about the Melanoma Research Foundation. They are committed to supporting the medical research needed to develop effective treatments and, ideally, a cure for melanoma. They also advocate for the melanoma community and educate patients, caregivers and the general public about prevention, awareness, diagnosis and treatment. It’s a cause close to my heart, so when we had our first fundraiser, I wanted the MRF to be the beneficiary.

Local support

On May 19, 2022, at Birch Run (Mich.) Speedway, located 40 miles north of Jones’ hometown of Byron, the Erik Jones Foundation hosted its first fundraising event, 3 Reasons to Race. Through a unique racing game experience where guests could win cash and prizes, plus a 50/50 raffle and silent auction featuring memorabilia from NASCAR personalities, 20,000 $ was raised for MRF to support essential research and educational resources.

MRF board member and stage four melanoma survivor Cheryl Stratos accepted the check from the Erik Jones Foundation.

Erik Jones presents a donation from the Erik Jones Foundation to Cheryl Stratos representing the Melanoma Research Foundation prior to the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

“The importance of donations like this from the Erik Jones Foundation for the research and development of life-saving medicines cannot be overstated,” said Stratos, who was diagnosed in November 2009. “I am here today because of the work of so many people. I signed up for a phase one clinical trial at UCLA and it saved my life. But the amount of money and work it takes to even have a clinical trial is amazing. That’s why this gift, and this moment when Erik and I can advocate for cancer prevention, early detection and care, is so precious. There’s someone there today. today who is in the same position as I was in 2009 and who will benefit from the efforts made by Erik and his foundation with this donation to the MRF.

Committed to supporting medical research and education, MRF is a dedicated advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for treatment. MRF’s website, www.melanoma.org, is the premier source of information about melanoma. MRF can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

cancer awareness

In addition to fundraising for MRF, Jones has raised awareness. During this year’s Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte (NC) Motor Speedway, Jones teamed up with MRF and local dermatologists to promote the use of sunscreen. Before piloting his No. 43 FOCUSfactor machine for Petty GMS, which sported an Erik Jones Foundation logo this weekend in Michigan to commemorate its one-year anniversary, Jones joined members of his foundation and handed out 10,000 containers of cream size sunscreen travels to fans while cheering them on. schedule annual exams with their dermatologist.

Erik Jones in Richard Petty’s Iconic #43 at MIS/Lasco Press Photo

“You can’t just talk about it, you have to go out there and do it,” Jones said. “That’s why I created the foundation. I wanted to find a way to do more on a larger scale. We’re only a year away and I already feel like we’re making an impact. But the truth is, we’re just getting started.

READ with Erik

The foundation’s first gift was a donation last June to the Genesee District Library, a public library system with 19 locations serving residents of Genesee County, Michigan. It was an extension of Jones’ #READwithErik series, which began in the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 forced NASCAR to take a 10-week hiatus and schools moved to remote learning. Jones saw an opportunity to share his passion for reading and the first #READwithErik event took place on April 21, 2020 when he sat down in front of a camera and read the iconic “Oh, The Places You’ll Go from Dr. Seuss via his Facebook page. Since its inception, #READwithErik has featured 70 books – 50 dedicated to young people with another 20 titles aimed at adults – all of which have generated over 200,000 views and a reach of over 430,000.

Over the past year, as COVID-19 restrictions have eased, Jones has been able to take his #READwithErik series from the digital realm to in-person gatherings. He read to students at campgrounds at NASCAR venues, with his first in-person reading last August in Michigan where Jones read “M is for Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet” by Annie Appleford, to children and their families at the Graves Camping family. Subsequent visits have included Estrella Vista STEM Academy for Engineering in Avondale, Arizona, last November, where the Erik Jones Foundation donated 100 books to the school library, and Celeste Henkel Elementary School in Statesville, North Carolina , earlier this year when Jones read another Dr. Seuss classic, “The Cat in the Hat.” Jones returned to a track camping event in May during the Southern 500 race weekend at Darlington (SC) Raceway, reading “Back Roads, Country Toads” by Devin Scillian and illustrated by Tim Bowers to children and their families . Most recently, Jones joined author Neal Thompson at a panel hosted by North Carolina Humanities on June 23 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, which discussed Thompson’s book, “Driving with the Devil : Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels and the Birth of NASCAR”.

A local child does good, that’s for sure!

People wishing to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Erik Jones Foundation can do so via the following address:

Erik Jones Foundation

370 Maple Road E, 4th Floor

Birmingham, Michigan 48009