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Car with a mission competes at Hickory Motor Speedway
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Car with a mission competes at Hickory Motor Speedway

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During last Saturday’s event at Hickory Motor Speedway, Jerick Johnson was one of 26 drivers who participated in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series’ 100-lap race. Johnson’s No. 76 car finished 19th, but there’s more to he and his race team than how they finish in any given competition.

Johnson’s car is called the POW-MIA Freedom Car, which has the mission of promoting awareness of the over 82,000 Prisoners of War and Missing in Action soldiers still unaccounted for and educating future generations of the POW-MIA cause. They seek to make sure all POW-MIAs are accounted for, and wish to remind their fellow Americans that the greatest tragedy of all is to be forgotten.

The Freedom Car is a Pro Late Model stock car that competes in professional NASCAR and other races around the United States. Over the past two years, it has competed in over 40 Pro Late Model Series races, with Johnson bringing home 11 first-place trophies and an additional six top-three finishes.

Off the track, the Freedom Car team also gives back to the various communities it races in. Just this past weekend, Johnson and his team went to an equestrian farm in Catawba County that assists veterans and others. They helped the workers there clear riding paths for a few hours, which allowed them to open two months earlier than expected.

In 2020, the POW-MIA Freedom Car joined forces with Helping Heroes, a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to military and first responder service. The alliance was made possible when Tony Galati, founder of Helping Heroes, discovered that one of his children had no idea what POW-MIA meant, and thus felt compelled to help make sure others don’t have the same thing happen.

Donations are accepted by Helping Heroes throughout the year, and any amount can be donated by visiting www.helpingheroes.org and clicking on the “Donate Now” button. Any individual who donates $100 or more will receive a certificate as an honorary sponsor of the POW-MIA Freedom Car Awareness Campaign, along with an autographed photo of Johnson and the Freedom Car to pair with the certificate. Individuals who donate will also be recognized as official sponsors at www.freedomcar.org and on the Helping Heroes website, and every dollar of their donation will go to support the Freedom Car cause.

Josh McKinney is the sports editor for the Hickory Daily Record.

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