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NASCAR GDS: Helping Local Communities

8 September 1998

Riverbend Community Church and Goody's Dash Series Family Auxiliary to Host Appreciation Dinner for Area Firefighters

Ormond Beach, Fla.-On Thursday, September 10, the Riverbend Community Church of Ormond Beach, Florida and the Goody's Dash Series Families Auxiliary will host a special Firefighters Appreciation Dinner to honor the firefighters and law enforcement agencies who battled to control the wildfires that struck the area earlier this year.

The evening is being billed as "The Night the Stars Came Out", a theme that holds a double meaning and for the residents of the Ormond Beach area. The theme first took root when the smoke that had filled the Florida air for more than a month finally cleared enough for the stars to once again be visible. But on Sept. 10, the stars that will be coming out will be the brave men and women who risked their own lives to save the lives and property of others.

Riverbend Community Church in Ormond Beach became a focal point during the period of the fires greatest intensity. The church was used as the Red Cross command post, the headquarters for news and daily press conferences, as well as a place for rest and nourishment for the weary firefighters. The church kitchen staff prepared and served more than 20,000 meals for emergency personnel over the course of the crisis. All this while the hungry flames threatened the church itself.

Once the fires had been extinguished, the church approached Randy Claypoole, Riverbend member and NASCAR Goody's Dash Series chaplain, with a request to organize and emcee an appreciation dinner for the firefighters. Within the span of just a few days, Dash Series Rookie of the Year candidate Donnie Apple and his sponsor Long John Silvers sought to send a message of support to the Volusia

County community. Apple's compassion for the stricken community further prompted him to donate his earnings from one race and Long John Silvers followed suit, matching Apple's donation.

As a result of Apple's efforts, the Goody's Dash Series Families Auxiliary, an organization founded by Claypoole in 1996 to assist members and friends of the Series in times of special need, stepped in and offered its support as well.

"This has been a year filled with natural disasters for the state of Florida." Said Claypoole. "First the flood, then killer tornadoes, then came the worst wildfires in history. Through all this the emergency response personnel have been there to aid and lend their support. Now, with this evening of thanks and praise, the community will be able to express their appreciation for those tireless efforts."