Connecticut native and NASCAR driver Joey Logano held a charity dinner Wednesday night at Foxwoods Resort and Casino for The Joey Logano Foundation’s fifth annual Driving Hope Home event.
Logano, a 28-year-old Middletown native, started his foundation in 2013, with the goal of raising money for children with illnesses, military families in need, and developing communities.
Since then, the foundation has donated over $2.7 million to non-profit organizations supporting those causes. The foundation contributed just shy of $1 million in 2017 alone.
“Those numbers are significant. It’s hard to get to, and it’s huge to be able to reach,” Logano said. “We most likely won’t raise a million dollars tonight, but we’ll be able to raise a good chunk of money to be able to make an impact on people’s lives.”
Logano has won 19 races since debuting in auto racing’s preeminent series in 2008. He said hosting the charity event in his home state is very important to him and that “you never want to forget your roots or where you came from.”
"I always love coming back to Connecticut. It’s home for me and home isn’t really because of the location, it’s because of the people,” he said. “To have the event here, see everybody, raise a lot of money for the foundation and the things we’re able to do with it is the most incredible part.”
Logano is back in his home state as the Monster Energy series prepares to head to Loudon, N.H., for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. He said that donating to help kids and giving in general is contagious for him, which is why he wants to keep contributing more in the future.
A video played during the night’s event showcased many of those who have been helped, giving the benefactors in attendance a chance to see the impact they can have on kids’ and families’ lives.
“It’s important for everyone to see … the impact,” Logano said. “That’s something we try to show to inspire everyone to live a life of generosity.”
Wednesday night’s event not only raised money for the Joey Logano Foundation, but also for the Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut at Yale New Haven Hospital. The Ronald McDonald House gives families a place to stay while their kids are being treated at nearby hospitals.
“A lot of families need to travel very far — and stay for long periods of time — to get the right care for their kids,” said Logano. “[Ronald McDonald House] is a great place for those families and we love supporting them.”
Logano, who became a father in January when his son Hudson was born, said his outlook on life and on the foundation changed immensely when he considered what parents might go through when their kids have illnesses.
“[My wife] Brittany and I have always had a heart for kids, but when you have one of your own and then you see a family going through a challenging situation with their child, it just hits home more,” said Logano. “You almost put yourself in their shoes. It’s breathtaking and really challenging. That’s why it’s probably even more important to us now.”
The Driving Hope Home event began with a cocktail hour held simultaneously with a silent auction as Logano chatted with benefactors.
The silent auction, which had prizes ranging from pieces of Logano’s No. 22 car to gear signed by Boston Red Sox outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi, continued through dinner.
Sparsh Shah, a 15-year-old singer and rapper from New Jersey, provided guests with music before and after a brief live auction period. Shah, whose stage name is Purhythm, is one of the many children the Logano Foundation has helped.
The 15-year-old has an album called “Tribute to Eminem” consisting of Eminem covers. One of those songs, a cover of “Not Afraid,” went viral on YouTube. Shah played his version of “Not Afraid” Wednesday night, along with “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson.
Shah was born with an incurable disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle-bone disease. When given the opportunity to see a race and go on the track with Logano as part of the JL Kids Crew, Shah said he saw how the foundation helped so many kids and gave people like him second chances.
“It means so much to me. The work is amazing,” Shah said. “I’ve been to a lot of charity places, but I never really got the experience that I got at the Joey Logano Foundation.”
Shah said the gift to play music in front of many people and become famous on YouTube is something he is truly grateful for, especially since he was only expected to live one or two days at birth.
“It’s just a huge blessing to follow what you love,” Shah said. “As the great Steve Jobs said, ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ For me, doing what I do just gives me such a great feeling that it radiates. That’s why I really say music was God’s gift to me.
“Performing at any event for me is a blessing, but performing at an event whose mission is to give to others is a blessing on a blessing, so I’m just so excited to be here,” he continued.
Logano will be back at Foxwoods Thursday afternoon, joined by Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney, for another event with his foundation at the brand new karting facility at the Fox Tower.