NASCAR recognizes volunteer’s work with award of two-year partnership
Wayne Littleton, coordinator for the Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Respite Housing Program in Ocean City, is known for saying “ordinary people do extraordinary things,” which must have been the case leading the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation to win $100,000 and a two-year partnership with NASCAR.
Carl Dakes, a longtime volunteer with Believe In Tomorrow, has been chosen by an online fan vote as the winner of The NASCAR Foundation’s eighth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The award ceremony took place in Las Vegas last Thursday.
“It was just an unbelievable experience to walk on that stage and look out all the people who were there,” Dakes said. “I’ve won trophies in the past, but nothing has ever come close to this.”
Dakes, of Crofton, Maryland, is a paint contractor by profession and president of The Dakes Company Inc. He has volunteered thousands of hours over the past 18 years, painting all nine Believe In Tomorrow facilities, including the pediatric hospital in Baltimore and several respite houses spanning from North Carolina to Fenwick Island.
Carl Dakes, of Crofton, Maryland, is the eighth winner of the annual NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award as a representative of Believe in Tomorrow. Dakes wins the organization $100,000 and a two-year charity partnership with NASCAR. Pictured, from left, are Believe In Tomorrow CEO Brian Morrison, Carl Dakes. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Foundation (Photo by Chris Graythen)
Dakes and Believe In Tomorrow came out on top out of four national finalists, all competing for a different children’s organization. For four weeks from Oct. 24 to Nov. 19, online voting took place everyday to determine the winner.
Dakes, an avid NASCAR fan, described the winning process as similar to the sport he loves.
“No one gets to this level of wins without a huge force of people that support you and do what it takes to get you there,” Dakes said. “NASCAR has their pit crew, their engine builders and their sponsors, and in a way that’s what I have here. The engine builders [is] the original Believe In Tomorrow Foundation who put all this together, and then you have the sponsors, who I consider all the voters because they are the ones who got the word out.”
A two-year partnership with NASCAR will “bring greater awareness about what Believe In Tomorrow does,” foundation CEO Brian Morrison said.
“It allows us to really be a part of the NASCAR family and to get our mission and our name out there,” Morrison said.
Morrison traveled to Las Vegas with Dakes and was “ecstatic” when the nicknamed “Carl the Painter” finalist’s name was called.
“It was like going to the Oscars,” Morrison said. “It was just an extraordinary moment because the three other competing groups were major groups. All three were great groups doing great things and had a lot of support behind them, but we were obviously were able to bring more support to this effort.
“It will greatly accelerate [our mission] and it gives it a great shot of enthusiasm,” he continued. “One of the things that’s so exciting is for us … in receiving this award, it means so many people in this community voted for Carl and Believe In Tomorrow and that’s a great community team effort that will always be a part of this new project.”
The project, a new respite house in Ocean City, has a site development already set aside on 65th Street.
“All that money is being earmarked for our new project that we’re hoping to break ground on in the very, very near future,” Littleton said. “$100,000 will go a long way in building a two-story facility.
“It’s very well deserved, [Carl’s] an amazing man,” he continued. “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella. He has a great heart, he really does.”
Dakes will return to his painting business in Crofton and has begun the process of thanking as many people as possible for making this opportunity possible.
“I thank everyone out there who voted for me,” Dakes said. “I thank everyone that voted for the other three nominees, I thank the entire NASCAR Foundation – they have the biggest heart and the best job, because they get to do this every year.
“It has been a great seven-eight-nine months,” he continued. “I love Believe in Tomorrow … I’m so excited that we have so much more to do to help so many more children and families.”
Believe In Tomorrow Children’s Foundation provides hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families. Since 1982, Believe in Tomorrow has provided over 900,000 individual overnight accommodations, from every state in the U.S. and more than 82 countries worldwide.
The Believe In Tomorrow facility on 66th Street in Ocean City is open year-round to provide a free getaway to the beach for critically ill children and their families whenever they may need to escape the stresses of their child’s illness.
Each of the four condos feature kid-friendly décor and paintings with at least two bedrooms, a full bathroom, a fully-stocked kitchen, living and dining room areas.
Families can also vacation at the Believe In Tomorrow House in Fenwick Island and House by the Bay on 28th Street.
Learn more about Believe in Tomorrow at https://www.believeintomorrow.org or call Littleton at 443-978-0680.
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