Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement


Newman, Ryan

By Michael Barendse, Ed.D.

Biographical Highlights

Ryan Newman has been one of the NASCAR ‘s top ranked drivers. Born in South Bend, Indiana, Newman grew up in the area and eventually attended Purdue University, graduating with a degree in Vehicle Structural Engineering.  While he was in school, Newman had several successful seasons racing in various USAC (United States Auto Club) open wheel racing series.  He won the championship of the USAC Silver Crown division in 1999.  That championship, along with numerous wins in midget and sprint cars, marked him as a significant young talent, and he was put under contract by Penske Racing.

Newman was soon given a ride in the NASCAR Winston Cup division, where he quickly earned the nickname “Rocket Man” by setting the fastest time at six different racetracks, a record performance.  He also won the Winston All Star race in 2002, and was named NASCAR Rookie of the Year.  Newman has since won many events on the NASCAR schedule, the most recent being the Daytona 500 on February 17, 2008. He is still driving for Penske Racing South, one of the premier racing teams in the United States, and the major corporate sponsors of his team are Alltel and Dodge.

Historic Roots

Ryan Newman has had a love for dogs since childhood.  He and his wife, Krissie, now have four dogs as part of their family.  “Harley” is Newman’s favorite companion.  Ryan and Krissie work through the Ryan Newman Foundation, founded in 2005, to be effective advocates for the humane treatment of animals.  The foundation cooperates with animal welfare and humane treatment organizations like the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Alliance, and Project Halo.

For several years, Newman and fellow NASCAR star driver Greg Biffle have combined a racing weekend at Loudon, NH, with their shared passion for animal welfare.  The drivers, along with Jodi Geschickter, wife of JTG Racing owner Tad Geschickter, have relocated dogs scheduled to die in North Carolina shelters to adoptive homes in New Hampshire.  The Geschickters are active supporters of the Animal Adoption League, and operate a ten dog kennel which houses dogs awaiting adoption at their home.

Importance

Ryan Newman’s importance to animal welfare is found in the mission statement of his foundation (http://www.ryannewmanfoundation.org) which states “…to educate and encourage people to spay/neuter their pets and to adopt dogs and cats from animal shelters…”. The foundation has generated more than $400,000 for the construction of a spay/neuter clinic in Catawba County, NC, and significant support for the Humane Alliance National Spay/Neuter Response Team program.

Because of his prominence in the racing world, Newman has a very broad fan base, and wide recognition. These attributes make him a very influential advocate for any product or cause.  As the mission statement of the Ryan Newman Foundation indicates, he and his wife have a major interest in the subject of animal welfare, and have made a significant commitment to the advocacy of issues that are congruent with the interests of the ASPCA. 

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

The Ryan Newman Foundation is affiliated with The NASCAR Foundation, an umbrella group that includes more than twenty specific foundations with varying missions.  Among them, The Greg Biffle Foundation, The Tony Stewart Foundation, and the Ward Burton Foundation all advocate animal well being in some form.  Biffle, Burton, and Stewart are all prominent NASCAR drivers. 

The Ryan Newman Foundation also has a working relationship with the ASPCA, the Humane Society of Catawba County, and the Humane Alliance through it’s current work on the spay/neuter clinic project.

Key Related Ideas

  • Advocacy:  The act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy (http://www.answers.com/advocacy accessed, 2/19/08).
  • Celebrity:  A widely recognized or famous person who commands a high degree of public or media attention (http://www.answers.com/celebrity accessed 2/19/08).
  • Animal Welfare:  the compassion and respect due animals as living, responsive beings.  Animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans, and this is not to be left to the compassionate impulses of humans, but is an entitlement that must be protected under the law.

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Greg Biffle:  Biffle is a highly regarded NASCAR driver.  The Greg Biffle Foundation has partnered with The Ryan Newman Foundation on several occasions.
  • Tony Stewart:  Stewart is a former NASCAR champion with a very large fan base.  The Tony Stewart Foundation cites animal welfare as one of the specific missions of the organization.

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Bibliography and Internet Sources