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Joey Logano put a smile onto the face of 11-year-old Zach Bennett
01-17-2011, 06:12 PM
Post: #1
Joey Logano put a smile onto the face of 11-year-old Zach Bennett
[Image: article-joey-logano-charlotte-checkers-j...o_0265.jpg]

Quote:NASCAR fans sometimes get annoyed when they see drivers on TV constantly taking choreographed swigs of the beverage that sponsors them, but Joey Logano hopes that when fans see him drinking Coke they will think of Zach Bennett.

The 11-year-old Bennett has a neurological disease that cost him his legs. A huge hockey fan who has become friends with players on the Charlotte Checkers minor-league team, Bennett will get to participate with other fans in the open skate with the team Sunday thanks to the help of Logano.

Logano surprised Bennett with a specially made skating sled Friday night that will allow him to skate on the ice Sunday. It’s the same sled used by members of the gold-medalist U.S. Paralympic Hockey team.

“It feels good, real good,” Bennett said after the presentation when he was fitted into the sled. “It was great for him to give me a sled.”

Bennett has neurofibromatosis, a hereditary non-fatal disease that causes nerve tissues to grow tumors because he lacks the gene that suppresses them. He has undergone numerous surgeries and became friends with many of the hockey players and team executives when the Carolina Hurricanes affiliate was located in Albany, N.Y., before its move to Charlotte in 2010.

“He’s a really cool kid,” Logano said. “He’s awesome. … He’s a big hockey fan.”

Logano is a hockey fan, too, and his family owns an ice rink in the Charlotte area that not only serves as a youth figure skating and hockey center but also as a training site for the American Hockey League’s Checkers.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver donated the sled as part of NASCAR night with the team. While past NASCAR nights have included autograph sessions (this one did, too), the team and Logano found a way to make it a meaningful night for a youngster who has provided inspiration to the players through his strength while losing his legs.

But there is more behind the story of the sled. Logano has funded the development and manufacturing of the sleds by using his “chug money” – the money he gets from Coca-Cola for sponsor plugs and drinks he takes on television.

Logano earned $35,000 in chug money last year to go to any charity. He’s been using a portion of the money to fund the sled program, an idea he got a few years ago while in Texas. Each sled costs about $1,600. Logano has funded the research and development of his sleds and supplies them to members of the U.S. Paralympic team, which went undefeated in the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games where it outscored its opponents 19-0 in five games.

“I was in Texas and there is an ice rink in the mall, and I walked in there to check it out,” said Logano, whose sister is a figure skater. “The guys were practicing with their sleds and looking at them, they were junk. You look at them and there was nothing about them – they were heavy, they were steel, there was a lot of extra stuff you don’t need.

“It’s kind of like a race car. You’re only as good as your equipment. The lighter, the stronger it is, the better you’re going to be. It still takes great athletes, and they are. But to help give them the best equipment possible to help them win that deal was really neat.”

So was the presentation in Charlotte Friday night. The Bennett’s story was well-documented in Charlotte media this week and Logano’s presentation of the sled was done between periods of the game Friday night.

While the 11-year-old was just excited with his new gift, his parents were emotional.

“He is totally part of the team,” his mother, Danielle, said. “This is his skate. He wants to take the place of the goalie.

“Now he can do it.”

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01-17-2011, 10:47 PM
Post: #2
RE: Joey Logano put a smile onto the face of 11-year-old Zach Bennett
i just love how logano does stuff like that hes not one of those stuck up drivers

Heres to 2013!!! New Relationships & New Beginnings!
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01-21-2011, 03:48 PM
Post: #3
RE: Joey Logano put a smile onto the face of 11-year-old Zach Bennett
thats such a great story. joey is such a great kid. i hope he continues to do stuff like this as long as he lives Smile
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01-21-2011, 06:10 PM
Post: #4
RE: Joey Logano put a smile onto the face of 11-year-old Zach Bennett
Sad story for the little boy, hope Joey was able to raise his spirits...how hard it must be for that kid and his parents. gws
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