Martin & Sherry share emotional story behind donation

Martin & Sherry share emotional story behind donation

Cancer delivers more than enough rough moments, so when we get exciting news, we want to celebrate it loudly!

Today, we want to thank the more than 1,000 employees at Auto-Owners Insurance who rallied together and, along with a match from the company, donated $75,000 to the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation, many as donations in memory of or honor of loved ones touched by ovarian or childhood cancers.

Mary Pierce and Jon Riekse from Auto-Owners Insurance surprised Martin Truex Jr. with a $75,000 donation to his foundation, which supports childhood and ovarian cancer initiatives. Over 1,000 Auto-Owners associates participated in the fundraiser, and the Company also contributed a matching gift.

Before the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 8, Auto-Owners Insurance executives Mary Pierce and Jon Riekse surprised Martin with the $75,000 donation and a card bearing the name of every employee who donated.

“We just wanted him to know all of us are here for him and Sherry,” Mary explained. “We are proud of his work on the track and their commitment to the work of the foundation. Martin is a remarkable driver and person, a true professional, no matter what challenge he is facing.”

“I’ve been to a lot of sporting events in my lifetime, and the moment that Mary and I shared with Martin will stick with me forever,” Jon shared. “When you add in the fact that he won the race, it really was the perfect day for all of us. Martin embodies so many of the core values that Auto-Owners believes in, and we couldn’t be prouder to have him as our driver.”

After a whirlwind day both on and off track, Martin took some time to reflect on the encounter he shared with Mary and Jon inside his motorhome.

“It really blew me away,” Martin said of the donation by employees at Auto-Owners Insurance, which is in its second year sponsoring the No. 78 team. “I had no idea they had this campaign going on. It was pretty cool to feel their support for what Sherry and I are doing.”

Auto-Owners employees had been following Martin’s career on the track and knew the challenges he and Sherry faced as she first recovered from stage 3 ovarian cancer and had a recurrence in summer 2017. The fundraising campaign, called “Race with Martin,” invited employees to have the name of their choice emblazoned on the No. 78 at the Nov. 12 race in Phoenix – and donations immediately poured in.

Chris VanArsdall, an Auto-Owners employee who helped coordinate the project, watched her inbox flood with responses to the invitation for employees to donate.

“We sent an email, and within 15 minutes we had over 500 donations,” she said. “The phone started ringing, and associates wanted to know if they could give more, to add the names of their friends and family members to the car. I said, ‘Of course!’ We heard stories of associates requesting names in honor of their co-workers, and grandchildren who had passed away because of ovarian or pediatric cancer. Others had grandchildren currently battling pediatric cancer.

“I sat at my desk, many days in tears, reading the stories and messages that came from our associates, thanking us for giving them opportunity to give, and be a part of the cause.  It was a very humbling experience for me.”

Martin’s emotions broke through hours after receiving the donation and card covered in names and just moments after he won the Bank of America 500. “You just try to keep it all in,” he said, after describing the Auto-Owners surprise donation and noting Sherry had to watch the win from home, after starting chemotherapy to treat a relapse.

“We’re so grateful,” Sherry said. “Saying ‘thank you’ just doesn’t seem enough. We really want everyone at Auto-Owners to know how touched we are and how meaningful this donation was to us.

“We can’t wait to see the No. 78 wrapped in names of all the associates who so generously supported our cause.”