Accelerating Change

Accelerating Change

#WholeySmoke! Everyone knows Tony Stewart is a true racer with a winning history whatever he drives. Since age 7, he has driven competitively…and raked up quite a lot of trophies, achievements and accolades along the way.

At Las Vegas & Phoenix these last couple of weeks, you have seen Tony the Owner – arguing with officials, offering expertise from the pit box and sharing pride in both SHR victory and teams finishing strong.

So who, exactly, is Tony Stewart the philanthropist? And, why should you care about his foundation?

The Tony Stewart Foundation “Accelerates Change” for outstanding charities serving children, animals and injured drivers. The stories you’ll hear confirm what Tony himself would tell you – that $1.00 is more than 100 pennies as it relates to the impact of a TSF Grant.

One story of Accelerating Change begins in Tony’s home state of Indiana but it expands across the Atlantic. It’s a tale about a grant from one racer to benefit another.

Those of you who have been “around awhile” will remember Tony’s commercial with the cheetah arriving at the Indianapolis Zoo. Far more than a publicity stunt, the partnership was created to draw attention toward and action for a highly endangered animal.

Cheetah Facts

  • The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal and Africa’s most endangered cat;
  • Uniquely adapted for speed, the cheetah is capable of reaching speeds greater than 60 mph in just over 3 seconds;
  • Cheetahs are extinct in more than 20 countries where they once roamed;
  • Fewer than 10,000 remain in the wild today.

From One Racer to Another

In 2010, Tony’s foundation made a leadership gift to help create the new cheetah exhibit at the Indianapolis Zoo and has continued to make annual grants in support of the resident cheetahs. But the story doesn’t end here.

An integral part of the exhibit is a feature known as Race-A-Cheetah (RAC) – an interactive track on which visitors can pay $.50 to try and outrun the 60 mph speed of this graceful animal.

Race-A-Cheetah provides family fun, healthy competition and an educational message to the Zoo’s visitors (over 1.1 million annually). In its first 6 years of many to come, RAC has generated just over $74,000 that provides direct support of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa.

Here’s just one example of how RAC funds are being used. Our racing donations helped Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) care for and distribute livestock guard dog puppies.  By placing over 500 dogs with Namibian farmers, the CCF has helped farmers protect their livestock while eliminating the need to kill cheetahs.

Talk about Accelerating Change!

So, it started with the Zoo approaching a fellow racer – would Tony Stewart support the fastest mammal on land? The initial donation helped create a unique exhibit. Our annual donations help maintain it. The exhibit features an interactive component that is fun & educational for visitors. And, it goes a step further to help save cheetahs more than 7,966 miles from the Indianapolis Zoo.

I hope you’ll enjoy watching the commercial. It was shot in two parts – the first in Kannapolis at Stewart-Haas Racing headquarters and the second on the streets of downtown Indianapolis. Watch our social media for the inside scoop on Tony, a cheetah named Rho and the fun of making such a unique commercial.

You are invited to help Tony and our staff Accelerate Change for children, animals and injured drivers. Here’s a simple math equation …Tony has about a million self-professed fans following him on social media. What if each one of us gave just one dollar?

If you can, help Accelerate Change by making a donation and sharing this story with your friends. Send a Smoke Signal!

Race-A-Cheetah Proceeds Donated to the Cheetah Conservation Fund


About the Author:

Joni Thompson serves as the Executive Director of Tony's foundation having started in the fall 2007. With 25 years of non-profit and fundraising experience, this is her "dream job" in providing grants to outstanding organizations serving children, animals and drivers.

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