CHARLOTTE, N.C. — For Ryan Blaney, his sister Erin and the rest of their family the passion for raising awareness for brain health comes from watching their own grandfather Lou Blaney battle Alzheimer's disease. Now the Blaney family hopes to use their platform and foundation to educate and assist others.
"It being 11 years ago now that he passed away, I think even then the people around him didn't have as much education about the disease and it wasn't as talked about back then. A huge part of why we want to raise so much awareness is to just normalize that it happens and just help people understand it," Erin Blaney said.
As the foundation works to educate and provide support for those affected by Alzheimer’s, including forming Team Blaney in this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s, which you can find more information on or join here, concussions are another topic that is close to the Blaney family and the sport of NASCAR.
"A few years back my dad got a really bad concussion through Sprint Car racing and was pretty messed up for a minute. Dale Jr. actually recommended that he go to this concussion center and it completely changed his life and since then he's recommended it to other drivers and other friends and tying it in with brain health, we knew that's something we also wanted to be correlated with."
While the Blaney family's bond is strong on the track, now it's focus is also helping other families worldwide with their foundation.
"I feel like it's continuing to grow because we're all so close and to see Ryan make an impact not only on the platform he has, but for the greater good has just been really inspiring and really inspires us to keep this foundation growing and becoming stronger."
The foundation just launched a T-shirt series with Flag & Anthem with 100% of the proceeds going back to the foundation to their Fund A Fellow program, which will fund an individual’s schooling through UPMC's Sports Med concussion program. Additionally, it will then help the individual selected open their own clinic in Charlotte, NC.