NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Michael Annett proudly joins Team WillyK in their third helmet raffle during Iowa Speedway race week in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
A cause that hits close to home for the Des Moines native, Annett's support of family friend Will Krueger, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) three years ago, started the annual fundraiser.
"The idea to organize this helmet raffle started with Iowa Speedway's inaugural Nationwide Series race in 2009," Annett said. "I wanted to find a way to help Will and others who were diagnosed with Leukemia, and with the help of my helmet painter, Ryan Young at Indocil Art, we coordinated the race related helmet raffle to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society."
"In 2009 and 2010 combined, we raised $25,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and we hope that number elevates even more with this weekend's raffle. The Krueger family has been close to me for many years, so being able to help people like them who are directly affected by this disease means a great deal to me."
Nick and Peggy Krueger of Des Moines, Will's parents, are honored that Michael has stepped up for the third year in a row to help them with their fundraising mission.
"On June 2, Will had completed 1,215 days of treatment for ALL, so this summer has really been a celebration of his tremendous accomplishment. We are so proud of him, and we are extremely grateful to people like Michael who have helped us cross the cancer finish line," Nick Krueger said. "The support demonstrated by Michael for Team WillyK for the last three years has been incredible. The money that this raffle generates goes to aid the research that we believe has made it possible for Will to have not only completed treatment, but enables him to live an active lifestyle of a normal second grader.
"We would have done anything for Will not to have gone through this, but this experience has changed our lives in such a positive way. The kindness of people like Michael towards our family has been overwhelming."
For 2011, Will's Team in Training, Team WillyK, is training and fundraising to participate in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon in Malibu, Calif. this September.
"After Will was diagnosed, we soon discovered that we couldn't control his outcome and we had to trust that his treatment would beat the cancer," Nick Krueger said. "We could, however, control raising money for more research. We recognized that all of the people who had been diagnosed with ALL prior to his diagnosis helped increase his chances of a full recovery.
"Our family made fund raising a priority because it was the best way to pay it forward. We quickly got connected to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and started recruiting friends to join Team WillyK, and today we're proud to say we've raised $438,954.82 since our first event with Team in Training in 2008," said Nick.
With help from his fellow Nationwide Series drivers, Annett will have the 2011 raffle helmet signed by all 43 drivers slated to compete in Saturday's race at Iowa Speedway. Young, Annett's helmet designer, donated his time and creative efforts to the cause.
"My dad was diagnosed with Leukemia in 1996, so when Michael asked for my help, I didn't hesitate to offer it," Young said. "My family has gone through the same struggle that the Krueger's are now faced with, so this cause is very close to me. It's my pleasure to be able to help support Team WillyK and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through this fundraiser."
To enter to win the commemorative helmet, individuals can purchase raffle tickets on Friday and Saturday at Iowa Speedway. The Team WillyK fundraising team will be on-site in teal Team WillyK shirts selling tickets throughout the Iowa Speedway property. The cost of the tickets is $5 per ticket or five tickets for $20. All proceeds benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
For more information on Will Krueger and Team WillyK, please visit www.teamwillyk.com.