When Mike Edwards and his Young Life team developed “A Team on a Mission” for the 2005 season, they knew it would have an impact on America’s kids, but didn’t know how far it would reach into the racing community.

With a group of fellow racers, car owners, and business executives stepping up to join the program, in all more than 60 kids were able to attend a Young Life camp in 2005.

“It didn’t matter that we weren’t racing for the same manufacturer, that we had different sponsors, or were drivers, owners, or company executives when it came to helping the kids,” Edwards said. “Though we all battle on the race track, in the end we all came together as one team in the giving spirit to make a difference.

“Through our team we knew we can only help a small group of kids,” Edwards continued. “But with the racing community getting involved as they did in such a worthwhile endeavor, it made a lasting impact on a larger group of kids in not only building a better tomorrow, but an even stronger connection to motorsports.”

As part of “A Team on a Mission,” for every round of competition the Mike Edwards Motorsports team and other, which included fellow Pro Stock drivers Jeg Coughlin Jr., Jim Yates, Ron Krisher, and V. Gaines, when they won a round during the 2005 NHRA schedule, each donated enough funds to send a kid to a Young Life camp. And companies like Competition Plus and R.V. Lending Group matched what Edwards accomplished on the track, while as a car owner, Victor Cagnazzi helped support the program through his donations.

Three-time NHRA champion Coughlin looked at the program as a win-win for all involved. “The points and winning rounds are part of each event that all of us want to get the maximum of at each race,” he said. “Then when you do get that round win, and knowing that we helped create positive memories for years to come for a kid – that’s what it is all about. This is a true win-win situation and the kids are the real winners.”

Gaines joined the “A Team on a Mission” program because he knew it would be a life experience for those fortunate kids it would help. “I wish I could have done more on the track to support the program and send a lot more kids to camp through this program,” he said. “We are extremely happy at the number that we were able to send and winning those rounds was a lot sweeter for us on account of this program. While winning a round of competition at a NHRA national event is gratifying, going to camp is a life experience and we are glad to be a part of that experience.”

For 2006, Edwards is hoping to reach new heights with the program. “We want the ‘A Team on a Mission’ to have drivers from all levels of NHRA competition making the pledge to send a kid to camp for every round won on the race track. As a racing family, the sky is the limit on how many lives can be impacted through such a program and I just hope my fellow racers, car owners, and the racing business world join forces to achieve what this program can accomplish.”

In 2004, the Young Life outreach camper program including the Young Life Senior High and WyldLife totaled 41,991 youth. In all, including the outreach program, family, adults, leadership, and wilderness/adventure campers and leaders the entire Young Life program reached 57,748 individuals.

Young Life has 24 camps throughout the United States and Canada.


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