I have longed believed that the Hunting Life was a site about more then just bullets, bolts and arrows, we were a group of people who live our lives hunting out the best life has to offer in the same way we pursue the best of the outdoors. While I was at Kansas Speedway, I had the opportunity to meet a young man who is doing just that and while he is not currently a hunter, I could not of been more impressed by Michael Jackson. He and my son Tristan seemed to hit it off and talk for a bit, while I got to spend a few minutes talking with Jacob Drescher about Michael and the Starlight Children’s Foundation. I could tell from Tristan that this young man inspired him and I know he inspired me without question.
Michael Jackson is spending his life leading by example and showing the world nothing should get in the way of happiness. Michael is 18 years old and has battled cerebral palsy, a life threatening condition, for his entire life, Jackson serves as a Young Adult Community Leader for the Starlight Children’s Foundation’s Starbright World bringing hope, inspiration, support and laughter to fellow teens with serious and chronic illnesses. Jackson has also raised funds for Starlight to sponsor Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment units at Essentia Children’s Hospital in Duluth so that other children could benefit from the Fun Center’s games and movies as part of distraction therapy just as he did.
This year Michael was nominated for the Betty Jane France award because of his work with The Starlight Foundation. The NASCAR Foundation and their Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award is an award that is granted annually to one passionate NASCAR fan that has made a profound impact in his or her local community. NASCAR fans were encouraged to nominate an individual who met the following criteria: has a long term commitment to children’s causes, impacts their local community in a positive way, dedicates their efforts and passion for the sport of NASCAR and showcased how the donation from The NASCAR Foundation would be used.
Betty Jane France is the mother of two of America’s brightest corporate leaders, NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France and International Speedway Corporation CEO President Lesa France Kennedy. She is a longtime corporate and community leader in Daytona Beach, Fla. and is perhaps best known as a steadfast champion of health care for children. Ms. France has had a longtime involvement in the support of the “Speediatrics” children’s care units at Halifax Health in Daytona Beach and Homestead Hospital in Homestead, Fla. – serving as the driving force in fundraising and later in the design of the “Speediatrics” units, which have racing-themed decors.
At age 12, Michael got invited to speak at the Starlight Children’s Foundation Gala in Los Angeles in 2007. Since then, Michael has served as an “Ambassador of Laughter” with the Starlight Children’s Foundation via social media to help children in recovery.
While undergoing treatment at the Polinsky Rehabilitation Center in Duluth, Michael felt that other children would enjoy the Starlight Fun Center Mobile Entertainment Units as much as he did and took action. He has raised funds to sponsor more units, which includes interactive games and a mobile video game unit. Among his other philanthropic contributions, Michael has worked to help raise funds for The ALS Foundation, The Young Survivors Coalition and Susan G. Komen.
An avid NASCAR fan, Michael’s love for the sport began when he was two and had a stock car-shaped bed. Michael is a huge Jeff Gordon fan because of his racing skills and charitable work. If Michael wins the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, he will donate the $100,000 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation to further develop the Starlight Fun Center program.
We would like to throw the full weight of HuntingLife.com behind Michael and over the next month while everyone we know is hunting, we are asking each of you to take a moment each day and vote for Michael to win this great award. Youthful enthusiasm like Michaels should be rewarded and when we can show the great work that this young man is doing to really make a difference, just think how great of an example that is to our own kids and the youth of today’s world. We will be tweeting up this story and sharing it our Facebook fan page and we cannot encourage you all enough to take a minute a day and vote for Michael. He embodies the spirit of living the Hunting Life even if he is not getting outdoors as much as we all are.