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I get by with a little help from my friends…

Written By: teamcharliebear - Sep• 16•13


AFT made the Tennessean this weekend with the help of an old high school friend of mine, Jeff O’Neill. Truthfully, it probably could’ve happened a little sooner, but things have been a little hectic on my end! Let me give you the exclusive details on how this came to pass…and maybe even a little more about this Jeff character.

My first week on the job with the foundation was an event week. To say it was crazy would be an understatement. For someone that was hired to simply answer phones I found myself making raffle displays among other things, and I loved every second of it! Somewhere in the middle of this chaos I got a Facebook message from Jeff. A welcomed surprise as I hadn’t heard from him in years on a personal note. Sure, I get the invites to races when he is going to be in Nashville, and I always try to go..To no avail. Having two kids to juggle and one that gets sick a lot, it seems I can never pull it off! So I was floored when I actually read the message. He was excited about my new employment. So much so that he wanted to know how I felt about him using our logo and donating all his winnings from his October 5th race to AFT!! Let that soak in for a minute… I mean, ALL?? Not a percentage??? Yep, he even wanted to set up a conference call with the bosses to discuss that and a donation site for people to donate money till November. If that’s not enough he even agreed to put people’s names on the car that donate $10 or more between now and the cutoff date of September 28th. Here’s the official/extended press release for those that haven’t seen it.

Jeff O’Neill Racing to Partner with the Autism Foundation of Tennessee

Austin, Texas (September 13, 2013) – Jeff O’Neill Racing announced today that it will be partnering with the Autism Foundation of Tennessee (AFT) to help raise awareness of the organization within the stock car racing community and seek donations to support this worthy organization.
Jeff O’Neill, a well-known competitor in the Pro Late Model division at historic Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, will be carrying the Autism Foundation of Tennessee decal on his sleek, low-slung stock car for the final two races of the 2013 season – October 5, and November 2, 2013, and hopes to raise some funds for the Foundation as well.
“I am humbled and honored to be able to help such a great organization and the great group of folks at the Autism Foundation of Tennessee. What they do to help the kids and their families is simply amazing. Without the help of this organization a lot of families would not be able to obtain the support and assistance they desperately need. It has been a pleasure working with PJ and Karen and everyone at the Autism Foundation of Tennessee to make this happen,” an enthusiastic O’Neill said.
“The team’s goal is to raise $5,000 between now and November 3, and to help reach that goal I will be donating my winnings from the October 5 event,” O’Neill said. “And we have set up a website where folks can make a donation as well. To donate go to http://www.gofundme.com/4afqik or visit the Jeff O’Neill Racing page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jeffoneillracing. On Monday, November 4, we will be announcing the total amount raised, so stay tuned!”
“We’re certain that displaying the decal on my car will draw attention to the Foundation,” O’Neill continued. “Hopefully, folks will come up and ask about the AFT sticker and perhaps get involved with the Foundation themselves.”
O’Neill is currently locked in a tight battle for the Rookie of the Year award in the Pro Late Model division and is only 14 points out of the top 10 in the championship point standings.

AFT founder Karen Blake is, of course, delighted that Jeff has taken such an interest in her organization.
“When Jeff approached us about wanting to do this we were absolutely thrilled! It’s exactly this kind of generosity that has made our Foundation what it is today,” Blake said. “We’re always looking for new ways to make people aware of autism. It’s a serious problem and the number of people impacted by autism is growing rapidly with numbers reaching epidemic proportions.
“With the winnings from Jeff’s race and the money raised at Jeff’s donation site we’ll be able to provide even more services for uninsured children,” Blake explained. “The lack of insurance is something that many families struggle with and a big part of the reason my husband Steve and I started the Foundation in 2006. We have several new programs we’ve been hoping to start as well, and thanks to our partnership with Jeff O’Neil Racing, some of those dreams might become a reality. We simply can’t thank him enough!”
For more information about Jeff O’Neill Racing, visit his website at www.jeffoneillracing.net.

Pretty impressive right? He is something else…but I’ve known that for years. Here’s something not a lot of people know, and he will probably kill me for telling ya! I actually went on a date with Jeff once all those years ago. Just once..on Halloween. Guess I’ve always been kinda scary so it fits ;) The thing is I never really dated in high school, and Jeff and I had only one class together…biology. We became good friends and that’s really all we ever were. I was more like one of the guys than most girls. I was raised by an ex-marine, had a mouth like a sailor, and was pretty easy to talk to. Probably a little too easy because I actually thought, or KNEW, most of those guys were scum and I wouldn’t have gone out with them anyway! So when my friends JP and Maelynne were gonna go to haunted houses and Jeff asked if I wanted to go on a double date with them I was surprised, but figured why not? He has listened to me all year and knows my only rule of dating is “whatever part of your body touches mine I KEEP! Choose wisely.” I, in turn, had listened to him, and well… We were going to haunted houses. I could make it look like an accident. ;)
They picked me up and on the way I dared him to trick or treat at a random house..no costume. Now Jeff was already about six feet tall, and as an adult who gives out candy I woulda smacked him! He evidently had charm even back then…cause he came back to the car with candy for all four of us! Haha! We proceeded to have a great night, and ya know what? He never laid a hand on me! He opened doors, made me laugh and didn’t even attempt to kiss me goodnight. Perfect gentleman through and through! We never went out again, but we remain good friends today…the same can’t be said for my ex husband so I wouldn’t change a thing! Haha! In all seriousness, I am honored to know him and even luckier to say he is a friend of mine. He has been at times when those were few and far between so it means a great deal. This charity donation of his.. It’s not new territory either. He races on the regular for Make a Wish Foundation, and now he’s going to help a lot of kids like my Charlie get the services they might otherwise not receive due to lack of funds and insurance. I tell ya, you could maybe find a better person than him in this world…but it’d be tough! Real tough!! image

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