New Jersey native Joe Graf Jr. spent most of 2018 racing cars at some of the country’s most prestigious race tracks.
While Graf Jr. was making waves as an up and coming driver in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, his younger sister was quietly blazing a different path. Andreah Graf, a senior in High School was soundlessly raising money for a cause she felt was not getting the proper attention.
“My sister started a foundation last year, Kids Face It, whose sole purpose is to help children with different faces,” explained Joe Graf Jr, who competes for Chad Bryant Racing in ARCA.
“Kids Face-It supports a vision to see kids with facial differences have an easier journey to acceptance, greater self-esteem, a healthy life balance and feel empowered to achieve their dreams.
She was telling me about the great work myFace has been doing and its affiliation with NYU, where I am a freshman college student.” myFace’s focus is on children with facial differences and getting them the medical and psychosocial care they need to live full and productive lives. “It seemed to be a perfect match with her foundation.”
“She mentioned she was donating $20,000 of the money she raised to myFace. To help with her cause, I thought it was a fantastic idea to donate $10,000 of my race winnings from the 2018 season as well.”
Graf Jr. continued, “I had read the book Wonder, written by R. J. Palacio, when I was in High School. It was really a powerful book that makes a (heartfelt) impression. The movie was fantastic too. When you see the emotional challenges these children and their families face it is heartbreaking. Although Wonder is a work of fiction it definitely captures the reality of the situation.
“I just hope that more children can experience the acceptance Auggie ultimately gets in the movie. That is really the goal Andreah and I have in mind. Help these children have greater self-esteem and greater acceptance from their peers.”
In late December, Graf Jr. and his sister stopped by myFace headquarters in New York City to present them with the donations.
“When I met with Priscilla Ma (Executive Director of myFace) and Karen Lazurus (Director of Development of myFace), it was amazing to learn of all the initiatives they are undertaking,” sounded Graf. “It really reinforced my decision to donate. I look forward to donating more in 2019.”
“I am also so proud of my sister Andreah. To see how she handles herself in meetings and seeing the results she is getting in fundraising is really inspirational. I am definitely going to try and do more to help her in the future.”
“I was so impressed and moved after meeting the Graf Family and hearing their story. Andreah and Joe are bright and thoughtful individuals who care about giving back and helping others,” said Priscilla Ma, Executive Director, myFace.
“We are grateful for their generosity and look forward to working with both of them to generate more awareness for the craniofacial community. They exude the essence of spreading empathy, acceptance and kindness to all.”
Approaching the start of his sophomore campaign, Graft Jr, a winner in ARCA competition is exploring opportunities to host a charity event for the myFace children and their families at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this summer.
“This is such a good cause and I am sure the kids and their families would love to experience the excitement of a race and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Chad Bryant Racing PR