Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jeff Gordon has combined determination, hard work and decades of experience to achieve an unparalleled roster of victories in the sport of racing. Jeff’s passion off the track is impacting outcomes and scoring victories for children battling cancer.
Jeff’s interest in supporting pediatric cancer began in July of 1992, when his then crew chief, Ray Evernham, shared the terrifying news that his one-year old son, Ray J, had been diagnosed with leukemia. For the next several months Jeff watched helplessly as Ray’s little boy was subjected to chemotherapy, radiation and long stays in the hospital. Jeff wondered how a stock-car driver like him could make a difference to a kid who was battling cancer.
Jeff started by making contributions to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, hoping that he would be able to impact outcomes for kids like Ray J. In 1995, Jeff join the ranks of Make-A-Wish, an organization which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Since that time, Jeff has granted 245 wishes to children. Because the majority of those wishes were for children battling cancer, Jeff quickly began to understand the emotional and physical toll cancer takes on kids and their families, and found himself learning more about the science of cancers in children. As the wishes amassed, so did Jeff’s knowledge and determination to make a difference.
In December of 1999, Jeff founded his own private foundation to further advance the ability to help children. While the foundation supported several children’s causes, childhood cancer was always a priority, and in 2008 Jeff changed the mission of the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation to focus solely on kids with cancer.
In January of 2011, the foundation became a 501(c)(3) public charity that would further dedicate itself to maximizing support of childhood cancer research, access to care and patient support. Also in 2011, Jeff and the Board of Directors made the first foundation investment to expand access to cancer treatments to children in resource-constrained countries. In partnership with Partners in Health, Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the Ministry of Health of Rwanda, the Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence opened in the Burera district of Rwanda in 2012, providing the first-ever cancer care for the people of Rwanda and surrounding countries.
What started as a small project driven by one special child has grown into an organization that has raised more than $16.5 million for children.