Driver knows the pain and payoff of organ donation

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
NASCAR driver Joey Gase, left, talked with Pearline Brahm of Ferdinand during Joey Gase Day at Best Home Furnishings in Ferdinand on Tuesday evening. Brahm asked Gase for an autographed photo to send to her NASCAR-fan grandchildren in Atlanta.
Twice this summer, Joey Gase will climb into a car bearing names that will make it impossible for him to escape the past.

Memories from April 2011 will speed back to him.

His mother’s headache. The frantic trip to the hospital. Word that there was nothing more doctors could do.

There’s a good chance that on July 8 at Kentucky Speedway and Aug. 19 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Gase will cry. Yet while those days will force him to recall his own early adulthood earmarked by his mother dying suddenly of a brain aneurism at age 44, they’ll also remind him of the power of her decisions, the impact of his motivation and the genuine nature of the people propelling his career.

During Monster Energy NASCAR Cup races at Kentucky and Bristol, Gase will drive a car sponsored by Best Home Furnishings, the Ferdinand-based home furniture manufacturer that has gladly linked itself with Donate Life, the group Gase joined not long after his mother’s death. Mary Jo Gase died but not for nothing. Her family agreed to donate her organs. The decision directly affected 66 people and opened the door for more. As part of Gase’s professional racing career, the 24-year-old Iowa native has pushed fans and bystanders to register as organ donors. Gase visited Best’s headquarters for tours and to meet employees Tuesday during the day and mingle with the public in the evening. Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center of Jasper, helping support the push for organ donation, was affiliated with the evening meet-and-greet. Continue reading

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