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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

NASCAR champ hosts Iowa fundraiser to honor his late grandfather

The champion of last year’s NASCAR Cup Series will be in Iowa for Sunday’s race at the Iowa Speedway, but also to raise money for the Iowa chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association on Saturday night.

Ryan Blaney, who drives the #12 Mustang, will host “Dinner with the Champions” at the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum in Knoxville. Association spokeswoman Lauren Livingston says Blaney is bringing his dad and his uncle, both of whom were top drivers as well.

“At the dinner, you can actually have a meet-and-greet with Ryan Blaney as well as Dave and Dale Blaney,” Livingston says. “There’ll be a dinner buffet and door prizes, and then you could check out the Hall of Fame, and there will even be a race at the Knoxville raceway.”

Established in 2018, the Ryan Blaney Family Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to supporting brain health causes, with a focus on Alzheimer’s disease and concussion — so she says donations for the event are tax deductible. “Tickets are $100 each,” Livingston says, “and that includes the meet-and-greet, the door prizes, the dinner, and the race that night.”

The Blaney Family has many ties to not only dirt racing, but to Knoxville and Iowa. Ryan Blaney’s mother, Lisa, is a Chariton native, and Ryan’s father, Dave, won the Knoxville Nationals in 1997. Ryan’s uncle, Dale, competed in the Knoxville Nationals several times, and his grandfather, Lou, finished 4th in the Knoxville Nationals in 1974.

Speaking of Lou, Livingston says the Blaney family has a personal connection to Alzheimer’s. “Ryan Blaney’s grandfather was diagnosed and passed from the disease in 2009,” Livingston says. “They’ve been great supporters and have raised a lot of money over the years, over $1 million to date, to help fund Alzheimer’s research and local resources.”

Those resources include the Alzheimer’s Association’s free 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

Some seven-million Americans have Alzheimer’s dementia, including more than 62,000 Iowans, while nearly 100,000 Iowans provide unpaid care to loved ones living with the disease.

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