By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Nov. 8, 2018) The Believe in Tomorrow Foundation has a chance to win $100,000 and a multi-year charity relationship with NASCAR by having a finalist in a competition for a humanitarian honor.
The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award is a yearly competition between thousands of children’s charities and recognizes a dedicated NASCAR fan who has positively affected the lives of children through volunteerism. Over the past seven years, The NASCAR Foundation has awarded $1,225,000 to charities in honor of 28 finalists, with more than 260,000 children being helped through their combined efforts.
The four finalists for award this year include Carl Dakes, a volunteer for the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation.
The winner will be determined via an online fan vote that kicked off Wednesday, Oct. 24, and runs through Monday, Nov. 19, at 5 p.m.
“We’re just incredibly honored to be a part of it and excited to be a part of it,” Believe in Tomorrow CEO Brian Morrison said. “We nominated Carl back in February this year. It’s very exciting and very well deserved, because Carl is a one-in-a-million volunteer. He has incredible enthusiasm for helping others and volunteering and making a difference in this world. He is [also] a super NASCAR fan, so it fit well.”
This August, NASCAR notified Believe in Tomorrow that Dakes was a finalist and sent a film crew to Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea in Ocean City, where NASCAR representatives spent a day interviewing Dakes and Believe in Tomorrow families.
“I’ve never been interviewed, never been videoed like that and it was just amazing and they did a great job. I’m just honored to be a part of it,” Dakes said. “Believe in Tomorrow saves those families so much time and money, they offer them phenomenal weeks and that includes all the restaurants and supporters and games because this whole thing is not just one group of people.
“It has grown, especially in Ocean City, where Believe in Tomorrow is well known, well respected and well loved,” he continued. “Once I get to meet the families and I get to see the things they get to do while on their week, it’s so amazing because they need this. It rejuvenates them. The children have these beautiful smiles and the parents have wonderful memories.”
Dakes, of Crofton, Maryland, is a paint contractor 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, Delaware.
“Carl is a gregarious guy,” Morrison said. “He’s a lot of fun, always upbeat. I’ve never in 18 years seen Carl as anything but enthusiastic. You’re very blessed in your life if you have a job that you do five days a week, and then in all your spare time, you’re doing that very same thing for fun.”
According to Dakes, his favorite Believe in Tomorrow project was his first, a building located in Ocean City on 28th Street on the bay.
“It’s one of my favorite places to go, because I grew up Ocean City. It was my vacation spot when I was growing up with my parents,” Dakes said. “I just love what I do and I never thought it would be like this. I love to paint. When I’m doing this, it’s just one of the gifts the good Lord’s given me to change the way things look.”
Dakes, who’s known as “Carl the Painter,” was humbled by the nomination and offered sincere best wishes for his three competitors as well.
“Last weekend, I got to meet the other three finalists,” Dakes said. “While we definitely need our vote, they’re wonderful people too. I just love the idea that our country has so many wonderful people that work for families and children because that’s really the most important thing you can do.”
Should Believe in Tomorrow come out on top of the competition, the money will be used to expand the Ocean City facilities, which has a site waiting for development on 65th Street and is expected to break ground in late 2018/early 2019.
“If you vote for us, you’re basically a part of the project,” Wayne Littleton, coordinator for the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Respite Housing Program, said. “It only takes a few seconds and you can be a part of the new children’s house.”
The winner will be announced Thursday, Nov. 29, during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas. The NASCAR Foundation will donate $25,000 to each charity represented by the award finalists, and the charity with the most votes will receive a $100,000 donation and a multi-year charity relationship with NASCAR.
Voters can vote every day.
“The really important thing is that people need to vote every day for these [two] weeks,” Morrison said. “We need to create an army of voting volunteers that can put in a minute a day for the next three weeks and create these votes that are needed.
“We have a strong volunteer and donor base, and when word gets out at the voting process, I think that could be exactly what we need to cross the finish line,” he continued.
To vote, visit https://believeintomorrow.org/nascar/ or visit https://www.nascarfoundation.org/award to vote directly or watch Dakes’ video.
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 http://believeintomorrow.org or call Littleton at 443-978-0680.