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America Supports You: Indy 500 Helps Build Homes For Disabled Veterans

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

INDIANAPOLIS, May 27, 2007 – The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is helping make adaptive homes available to disabled veterans through support for a group called Homes for Our Troops.

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A stand offers T-shirts and dog tags on Indianapolis 500 race day, May 27, 2007. Proceeds from sales of the items will benefit Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds or adapts homes for servicemembers severely disables in the global was on terrorism. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley

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The group builds or adapts homes to meet the needs of servicemembers severely injured while serving in the global war on terrorism. The group has completed 17 homes to date, and it will receive the proceeds of T-shirt and dog tag sales in the weeks leading up to today’s Indy 500 race.

Though the total amount of funds raised has not been calculated yet, the racetrack estimated that they will have raised at least $16,000 to help the group.

That money will certainly help, said John Gonsalves, founder of Homes for Our Troops. The funds will go toward the 21 houses on which Homes for Our Troops is currently working. But it’s perhaps not the best thing to come out of the speedway’s support.

“We always need to raise money,” he said, adding that “raising awareness is equally, if not a little bit more, important.”

Homes for Our Troops is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

It’s that program which brought the speedway and the home-front group together, said Gina Friedholdt, the speedway’s licensing coordinator. The speedway is a corporate member of America Supports You.

“It really stems from us supporting the America Supports You program run by Allison Barber,” she said. “We thought it would be a good initiative to try to support some of the programs that were falling under America Supports You.”

In fact, the speedway actually found Homes for Our Troops on the America Supports You Web site. Friedholdt said the speedway looked on the site for universally appealing troop-support groups that would be supported by race fans, who are a diverse crowd. And it seems they were successful. Many race fans expressed great support for the troops.

“I think it’s something that needs to be done and I think they’re doing a really good job,” said Daniel Moore, of Mitchell, Ind. “We need to do something for them. They went over and risked everything they can, their lives, and … everybody can help in some way. This is the least I can do.”

Moore, who was at the track working as a safety official, understands the sacrifices servicemembers make. His father and uncle both served in the Korean War.

For Robert Watson, who came to Indiana from Crosby, Texas, for the race, the reason to purchase one of the shirts to help Homes For Our Troops was a very simple way to show great appreciation.

“They’re our troops. They’re over there protecting us,” he said. “I never was in the war, but I know what they’re doing and I appreciate it.”

The T-shirts, which went on sale May 11, were on pace to sell out just before the race began as they have in the past. The shirts were sponsored by Homes for Our Troops corporate sponsor, Simonton Windows, and specially designed for today’s race. They sell for $20 and come with a free dog tag, Friedholdt said. Fans also can buy the dog tags for $5 each, Gina Friedholdt.

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Related Sites:
Homes for Our Troops
America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution imageLaura Ramirez, of Queretaro, Mexico, shows one of the T-shirts being sold during the Indianapolis 500 race to benefit Homes for Our Troops to her husband Oscar. Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageRobert Watson, from Crosby, Texas, buys a Homes for Our Troops T-shirt while attending the Indianapolis 500, May 27, 2007. The proceeds of the specially designed shirts will benefit the non-profit organization. The Defense Dept. photo by Samantha L. Quigley  
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