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BALTIMORE | WBAL – Jennifer Franciotti

Carl Dakes paints for sick children at Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House.

A man who volunteers his time painting is up for a national award. If he wins, not only would it be a dream come true, but it would pay off big time for a nonprofit dedicated to helping sick children and their families.

For Carl Dakes, every brush stroke is personal as he touches up the teen game room at the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s House near Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“I totally enjoy the whole aspects of what we do,” Dakes said.

What started as a single act of volunteerism has turned into a lasting relationship.

“We’re going on almost 18 years,” Dakes said.

There’s not a Believe In Tomorrow facility Dakes hasn’t painted, donating countless hours. It has made the full-time contractor invaluable to the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation, which provides housing and respite stays for children and their families undergoing treatment for life-threatening illnesses.

“He’s a one in a million volunteer. He loves to paint and he loves to use that painting skill to brighten the lives of everyone around him,” said Brian Morrison, founder of the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.

Believe In Tomorrow nominated Dakes for the the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. NASCAR flew Dakes to Kansas City to meet owners and drivers, giving him the red-carpet treatment as it was announced that he is one of four finalists.

“It’s a roller coaster ride and (I’m on) cloud nine all at the same time,” Dakes said.

The public will determine a winner. If Dakes wins, Believe In Tomorrow will get $100,000 to help build and expand a respite house in Ocean City, and Dakes, who is a huge NASCAR fan, will get to be an ambassador for two years.

“I’m hoping I just get to places, talk to people about our passion, help children in other places, talk to other charities, involve more people in what we do, so we can spread the word around the country that volunteering is just a great thing to do, and the giveback is huge,” Dakes said.

People can vote once daily until Nov. 19 to help Dakes get across the finish line. The winner will be revealed on Nov. 29.

Click here to vote for Carl Dakes!