Posted by the Press of AC: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 9:30 pm
By BRADEN CAMPBELL Staff Writer with the Press of AC
A locally-run, multi-state campaign to end drunk driving is about to reach its biggest audience yet.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 will be held June 27 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., and be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
“It’s a huge, quantum leap,” said founder and Chairman Bill Elliott. “It’ll be on a national stage, so people who know the campaign will see we’ve grown to that level, and people who’ve never heard of it will be exposed for the first time.”
The organization was formed in 2000 by the family of Navy Ensign John Elliott, an Egg Harbor Township High School graduate who was killed that July by a drunken driver.
The group now operates in seven states, spreading awareness of the need for designated drivers through partnerships with schools, law enforcement agencies, professional sports teams, bars and other entities and businesses.
The race was made possible through the HERO Campaign’s partnership with the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, which is sponsoring the event. The HERO Campaign has been active in Kentucky since 2012.
Bill Elliott and his wife, Muriel, will be interviewed on-air before the race, meet with drivers, serve as Grand Marshals and start the race. They were Grand Marshals of the Drive Sober 150 at the Dover International Speedway in Delaware, but this is their first time as title sponsors. Elliott said he is hopeful the NASCAR partnership will continue with more races at more venues.
A HERO Campaign commercial will air during the broadcast, and while the group is active in only a fraction of the states it will reach, the national event will nonetheless be a boon for getting the message out.
“Basically, what we’re looking for is to make having a designated driver be as automatic as wearing a seatbelt,” he said. “To have that, you have to create a tidal wave of attention.”
For a video featuring Elliott, visit the Press of AC