News

Bedford NASCAR fan could win 100K for CASA

Friday, November 15, 2013

By LORETTA JACKSON

Staff Writer

Bedford’s Lisa Hall is one of four finalists for this year’s NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian award, a national honor bestowed upon a NASCAR fan who is dedicated to making a positive impact on children through community activity.

The award is offered by the NASCAR Foundation in honor of Betty Jane France, wife of the late Bill France, Jr., who crafted a NASCAR empire that continues to thrive. The widow is chairwoman of the charitable-giving arm of NASCAR.

Hall, a self-employed consultant in the field of clinical research, helps children as a court appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer. A generous portion of some 10 years of her time has been focused on securing smiles from abused or neglected youngsters, nurturing their trust and advocating in court hearings and in other venues on their behalf.

Oftentimes, drugs, alcohol, poverty and parenting issues are factors that leave offspring, helpless children, unattended, emotionally deteriorated, hungry or physically injured. The circumstances in every case unfailingly are beyond the children’s control. Hall is their champion in court.

She also loves racing. She has shared track chat with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick. It was Patrick who presented Hall a specially designed BJFHA jacket when Hall was honored as a finalist in October at a race in Martinsville Speedway in Virginia.

Hall is pitted against three men who also fit the bill to win the award. The national winner will receive $100,000 for the winner’s selected charity. Hall intends, she said, to name CASA. It was National CASA that nominated her. The $100,000 to the winner will be followed by $25,000 to each of the other three finalists. The person with the most votes will receive the $100,000 for their charity.

Hall shares here some of the highlights of each of her loves – NASCAR racing and helping children along a path to a better life. Voting for the foundation’s award is underway until midnight on Thursday, Dec. 5. Votes can be cast once each day until the deadline. Multiple votes by the same person are permitted if placed once daily. Voting is conducted online at www.nascar.com/award.

Q: How long have you been a resident of Bedford and what is your occupation?

A: I have lived in Bedford for the past 10 years. I am self-employed. I work as a consultant in the field of clinical research, monitoring and project managing clinical trials. I travel extensively for work. I started my own company in 2010 so I would have more control over my own schedule because I wanted more time for CASA.

Q: What was your reaction when you found yourself among four finalists for the award?

A: I got the call on July 31 and I was shocked. I am humbled and honored to have been chosen. As a longtime NASCAR fan, I know who Betty Jane France is and I know of her work and her community service. She sets the bar high and leads by example.

Q: What are some of the issues children deal with these days?

A: The kids that CASA sees are all in the court system due to either abuse, neglect or both. Depending on the circumstances, some may still be in their own home while their parents work to correct any issues, others may be placed with relatives or in foster or group homes. These kids are oftentimes scared and we are the one consistent adult presence in their lives throughout the case.

Q: What are some of the challenges kids face?

A: Two things that come to mind are the challenges and dangers kids face with social media and synthetic drugs. Kids just have no idea how choices they make today about social media can stay with them the rest of their lives.

Q: What is your biggest satisfaction as a court appointed special advocate?

A: Seeing that a child has a safe, loving, permanent home and knowing they will no longer be abused or neglected. Every kid deserves that.

Q: What is the upper age limit of some of the youth in your care as their representative?

A: We work with children until they “age out” at 18 or graduate from high school, so if a child hasn’t graduated from high school at 18, we continue to work with them until they do graduate.

Q: Do you ever hear from these children when they have grown up or found their new homes?

A: It has been the policy in the past for us to not remain in contact with the kids, so that they could bond with their family. The CASA organization is rethinking that position and CASA now allows us to stay in contact with older kids if they wish it, when our cases come to a close.

Q: When did you begin to enjoy NASCAR?

A: I used to watch the races on television as a little girl. I have been going to the races in Loudon since the inaugural race in 1990. The NASCAR experience is a family event for us. It is something I share with my parents, siblings and cousins. We camp for the weekend at the track. My cousins and I have done “girl” trips to the track in Phoenix. The NASCAR people are a community and they promote family values. The drivers and team owners – they all give back.

Q: Did you excel in a sport in high school or college?

A: I played basketball in high school.

Q: What is the excitement you feel when the race cars are whirling around the track at such high speeds?

A: I love watching a race, it’s exciting. There is camaraderie, as well as a good natured rivalry with the other fans. The NASCAR fans are from all walks of life. They’re some of the nicest people you will ever know.

Q: Have you attended many races in person?

A: I have been going to Loudon since 1990 when Rusty Wallace won the inaugural race. I have missed only a couple of races due to family emergencies.

Q: The selection of the winner of the Betty France Foundation’s Humanitarian award will take place in Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 6; Will you be there?

A: All of the finalists will be there for Speedweek. The award will be presented live during the NASCAR awards’ ceremony, Friday, Dec. 6.

Q: If you win the grand prize of $100,000, or a runner-up prize of $25,000 for CASA, how will you manage the donation?

A: Regardless of the amount, it will go to a charity designated by me which is, of course, CASA. Since the NASCAR Foundation is the one sponsoring the donation, I intend to have the money be distributed to CASA programs in communities where there are NASCAR tracks. New Hampshire’s CASA program will benefit, as we have a race track here in the state.

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