Thursday, August 9, 2012
The Left Coast Race Scene: Kicks for Kids is a Genuine Act of Love
by Dave Grayson
On a recent racing trip, to cover the Lucas Oil Modified Racing Series, I found myself in the beautiful community of Madera-California, the home of the Madera Speedway: the fastest one third mile in the west.
Prior to the start of a Friday evening practice session, I found myself walking around the speedway property. Adjacent to the main grandstand area I noticed a barrel with a sign on it that read "Kicks For Kids." According to the signage this was a program that collected shoes that are distributed to the children of less fortunate families in the Madera County area.
I found myself instantly intrigued because, frankly, this is something that you just do not expect to see at a race track. As luck would have it, I ran across Nathan LaMattina, one of the program's volunteers, who was only to happy to promote this worthy cause.
"Kicks For Kids is a non profit organization that was started here in Madera to collect shoes for the less fortunate kids in our community," he said adding "we're looking for new shoes or gently used shoes. We want to take old shoes off of the kid's feet and bless them with new shoes for the beginning of the new school year."
LaMattina is very proud of the interactive relationship Kicks For Kids enjoys with the Madera Speedway and said "Kenny Shepherd, (speedway General Manager), has been a great help, you just won't find a more stand up guy. He has graciously let us come here to the Madera Speedway and reach out to the racing fans. I was born and raised here and Madera Speedway has been here all of my life. It's always great to come here to the speedway, see some great racing and have some fun while, at the same time, do something good for the community."
Kenny Shepherd is also very proud of the relationship between his speedway and Kicks For Kids and said "this is a really neat program. It wasn't that long ago that we had our big USAC racing program here. On that night we had the Mayor of Madera here as our Grand Marshall and we got him involved. We also got a lot of our local politicians, as well as local businesses and churches, involved with Kicks For Kids. It's no secret that we are a really poor area. The housing market has collapsed here and the unemployment here has just devastated this community. Despite that, whether it's Kicks For Kids, the Children's Hospital, the American Cancer Society or the Special Olympics the people of our community supports a lot of charity causes. Kicks For Kids is another one of those wonderful programs because it is putting shoes on the kids in need in this community. We see the results. We get to go and hand the shoes out and participate with them. It's a great program."
Shepherd said he was especially proud of how the fans at the Madera Speedway has responded to the Kicks For Kids. "we're a family here, and we get together in a united front and it wonderful."
On this particular night of racing the speedway hosted a special fundraiser that provided $500 to the cause. In addition, there were additional monetary donations and the barrels were filled with shoes. "This isn't just something that happened here tonight," Shepherd observed adding "this is something that happens every week."
Meanwhile LaMattina stated that there are many locations in the Madera area to donate shoes for the kids and these locations are listed in the organization's "Facebook" page. "We're also going to be participating in lots of special events to spread our message. We will be present at "Love Madera" on September 22nd and we plan to be in full force at the Madera District Fair from September 6th through the 9th. We're excited about these events and, most of all, we just want to reach out to the kids in our community." he said.
LaMattina also pointed out that tax deductible cash and gift card donations are very welcome. Checks and money orders should be made payable to the West Valley Christian Center, attention: Kicks For Kids.
This is actually just the first year of existence for the Madera Chapter of Kicks For Kids. The progress this group has made in such a short amount of time is really quite remarkable. Their mission statement, on their publicity posters, likely sums up the success of the program and why the citizens of Madera County have quickly supported this cause.
That poster reads: "partner with us in giving to the kids of our community. We are collecting slightly used or new shoes to show our kids that God loves them and Madera loves them. Look for Kicks For Kids donation barrels in many of our churches and businesses."
For more information check the Kicks For Kids page on "Facebook" or email: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also contact Nathan LaMattina directly at 559-706-4210.