MIS Cares program gives funds to nonprofitsWritten by Nicholas Huenefeld | | firstname.lastname@example.org
MIS Cares, under the direction of the NASCAR Foundation, will help Michigan International Speedway (MIS) strengthen its ties to the community.
“We’ve operated with a charity for quite some time, but we’ve never officially named it,” said Sammie Lukaskiewicz, MIS director of communications. “We figured it was about time.”
In doing so, Lukaskiewicz said she believes it will help the speedway serve the community more efficiently.
In the past, people have made “blanket” donations where the money goes to a general fund. Now, with the formation of MIS Cares, the speedway can direct funds to more specific locations.
“It really isn’t that difficult of a process and it’s not going to change the way we do business,” Lukaskiewicz said. “Overall, it just solidifies our commitment [to the community].”
Alicia Cottrell, director of government and community relations for MIS, was brought in to work on endeavors like this.
“[MIS Cares] really is her brainchild,” Lukaskiewicz said. “It’s really why she’s here — to strengthen our ties to the community. Her focus is on that.”
Under the direction of Cottrell, MIS Cares will raise money and distribute charitable dollars it receives through grants to nonprofit groups in the region.
One way MIS Cares will raise money is through NASCAR Day, the largest annual charity event supported by the NASCAR Foundation. For a $5 donation, race fans and the general public will receive an official NASCAR Day lapel pin and have the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR apparel to work.
Half of the proceeds will go to MIS Cares.
In the past three years, MIS has sold 15,400 pins — more than any other NASCA speedway.
“We always sell the most, so we keep that notoriety,” Lukaskiewicz said.
Country Market in Jackson, Lenawee and Washtenaw counties has pledged to sell 5,000 pins in its stores May 1 through May 15. The general public can go online to NASCAR.com where there is a link to NASCAR Day and MIS to purchase a pin.
Another significant initiative is the ongoing cleanup of the Waterloo Recreation Area — a 20,000-acre recreation area approximately 30 miles north of MIS and home to four campgrounds, beaches, picnic areas and 11 fishing lakes.
“It’s a nice play to go,” Lukaskiewicz said. “We have a saying around here that ‘it’s NASCAR in a national park.’”
In cleaning up the area, she said that MIS Cares is working in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Racing for Wildlife and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs to conserve Waterloo.
Racing for Wildlife is NASCAR driver Ryan Newman’s foundation and Lukaskiewicz said that he has brought more exposure to the cause.
“Ryan is a huge outdoor enthusiast,” she said. “He wants to make sure kids can fish with their fathers and grandfathers and do other outdoor things.”
For those interested in learning about the grant process, Lukaskiewicz said that MIS will know more about that by the end of the year, and it will begin accepting grant applications early next year.