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Grand-Am Rolex Series: Rolex 24 at Daytona

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Rolex 24 at Daytona

Grand-Am Rolex Series: Rolex 24 at Daytona

Eloise Caggiano
Patrick Dempsey
Barbara Jo Kirshbaum
Carol Kurzig
January 24, 2009


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA

J.J. O'MALLEY: We have Joe Foster and friend at the far end, Joe is the defending KONI Sports Car Challenge Grand Sports defending champion, driver for Dempsey Racing; Barbara Jo Kirshbaum, and Barbara Jo is the top fund-raiser for the Avon Walk; Patrick Dempsey, Dempsey Racing, Hydra Sport and well known with Grey's Anatomy and a number of films; and Carol Kurzig, president of the Avon Foundation; and Eloise Caggiano, the program director for Avon Walks.
So Carol, you've got some exciting news.
CAROL KURZIG: We do. Thank you so much. Thanks everybody for being here. I am delighted today to announce an exciting new partnership between Dempsey Racing and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. And this, a new partnership, will help raise funds and increase funds for active care in finding a cure for breast cancer.
The Avon Walk is a project of the Avon Foundation. We conduct nine Avon Walks a year, and since our launch in 2003 to the end of last year, we have had had more than 100,000 people participate in the Avon Walks, and the walks have raised more than $268 million.
The event itself is both inspiring and challenging. Each walk is a weekend long, participants have a choice of walking a 26-mile marathon or a 39-mile marathon-and-a-half over the course of two days. All of our walkers must raise a minimum of $1,800, but most of them go far beyond that.
Avon is proud to be the leading corporate sponsor of the breast cancer cause worldwide, and we have raised and awarded more than $585 million in over 55 countries for breast cancer research and access to care.
We are very proud to have worked with Patrick Dempsey in support of the great work being done at the Central Maine Medical Center. Patrick created the Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing there in honor of his mother, who is a cancer survivor. He brought their work to our attention, and we were thrilled to be able to support the breast cancer program there with a grant, our 100-net safety grant, for new digital mammography equipment and patient navigation, especially in the rural areas of Maine.
Now we are really excited to be taking this partnership in a brand new direction, and we know with the support of Dempsey Racing, despite the economic challenges our world is facing, that we are going to reach record new fund-raising heights this year.
So I would like to ask Patrick now to tell you about his partnership with the Avon Walks For Breast Cancer and announce our brand new activity.
PATRICK DEMPSEY: Hi, everybody. Been working with the Foundation for almost a year now. They have done phenomenal work with their grant that they gave our center, really reaching out to the rural communities and helping them gain really early awareness, which is really key. I think a lot of people are now surviving breast cancer because it is diagnosed earlier on, and the phenomenal statistic is that every three minutes, someone is diagnosed with breast cancer. That's like a lap and a half, here someone is diagnosed.
I'm really proud to be a part of this. You can see the impact that the Foundation and the Walk and the fund-raising really makes, and the money is getting out there and getting to the people that need it.
I am just profoundly moved by the experience of people that have come up to us over the last few days who have shared their experiences and the impact of breast cancer; either themselves or a wife or a sister or something like that.
So it's been an incredibly moving and it's been nice to see that all of these ladies, and certainly this woman here who has raised over a million dollars, I believe, which is pretty phenomenal, and you should be proud of yourself and you are making an impact on people's lives, and that's a beautiful thing.
CAROL KURZIG: I just really want to thank Patrick for the extraordinary support and commitment he has made to our work.
And I also want to take an opportunity to introduce this very special lady that Patrick mentioned, a very special walker. She's our star fund-raiser and she will tell you about what she's done, but she really represents the Avon Walk and the really incredibly committed and inspiring people that we have who participate. She has walked in more walks than any other Avon walker by far, and I want you to hear a little bit about her story.
So I'm very proud to introduce Barbara Jo Kirshbaum.
BARBARA JO KIRSHBAUM: This is very exciting for me. I just see myself as a little walker from Upland, California doing my own thing.
But last year in 2008 I was able to achieve some very personal goals. One of them was walking in my 100th long-distance walk for breast cancer in 11 years, and in doing that, I passed 5,000 miles of walking; that's from California to New York, and I think almost back. And also, probably more importantly, it was reaching my personal goal of raising over a million dollars with grass roots fund-raising, and I am now at about $1,046,000. So moving on towards I guess the next goal, $2 million.
In all of the walks that I've done, I have met the most amazing people, and that is men and women, and just to remind everybody that men get breast cancer, too. And every time I talk to somebody and listen to somebody's story, it's another reminder of why I need to keep walking and keep fund-raising for this cause.
My personal tag line, the motto I use, on everything, is: "I walk because I can't walk away." Though this year, I have thought that as I had reached my goals, it was time to start cutting back. I also realized that breast cancer is not done, and so I'm not done either, and I've committed to doing all of the walks for the Avon Foundation in 2009.
And so I think that part of the excitement with the Dempsey Racing Challenge, as a top fund-raiser in the country, since the challenge is going out to all nine events for Avon, it will give people an opportunity to really amp up their fundraising, because the prize at the end is going to be really exciting.
Now, as Carol mentioned, it's $1,800 to participate in an event. On the average in 2008 of people walking, they raised about $2,600. And I understand the average of the top nine fund-raisers in 2008 raised $28,000.
But as a top fund-raiser, believe me, the prize was not what it is this year. The motivation will be much different for being that top fundraiser. And I think that that will be very exciting and certainly should enhance participants, enhance people wanting to sign up, and certainly enhance people wanting to raise as much money as they can.
So I think this is very exciting, and my challenge to everybody in this room, you may think that you're men, and this is really about women; men also do these events. My challenge is for you to consider thinking about which one of the nine cities you might like to participate in this year in 2009, and I would be excited to see any of you in any of these cities.
And you can also pass this information on to the women in your lives and just as a reminder, with everything that I ever do related to breast cancer, is for you to remind everybody in your lives about self exams and regular mammograms, because it is about early detection, that's what is saving lives.
ELOISE CAGGIANO: Thank you very much, Barbara Jo; 100 Walks, $1 million, this woman is such an inspiration.
My name is Eloise Caggiano, and I am a three-year breast cancer survivor. I also have the privilege of being the program director for the Avon Walks for Breast Cancer, and I can tell you firsthand how important it is that we keep raising much-needed money for the breast cancer cause.
I am sitting here today because of the great treatment and medical care that I was able to receive when I was sick but not everybody is so lucky. Not everybody has the access to the treatment and the care that they need. Money raised by the Avon Walks for Breast Cancer ensures that everybody has access to quality breast cancer screening, support and treatment regardless of their insurance situation, regardless of their finances. And this money also fuels the very important work that we do to advance research so that we can hopefully eradicate breast cancer all together.
And now more than ever, we need to keep up the fight. As you may know, even before the recession, more than 40 million Americans did not have health insurance, and now with people losing jobs and health benefits being reduced, that number will certainly grow.
So at the same time, as people are losing their health insurance also, medical centers, breast cancer organizations, are losing vital funding that they need to keep going strong, and without that funding, they have to reduce the services that they can provide to people who don't have insurance.
So each and every dollar we raise through the Avon Walks for Breast Cancer is now that much more important to ensure that everybody does get the care that they need. And the money raised by the Avon Walks, now with this added boost from the very exciting Dempsey Racing Challenge, that money will give survivors like me hope; hope that we will find a cure.
And with your donations from people just like you, everybody here in the room, with those donations we are making progress. With early detection, with early breast cancer did he section, there's a 95 percent survive all rate after five years. After ten years, it's 81 percent. So it's really, really crucial that people get diagnosed early, that they get treated early, so that they have the best chance for survive all.
On behalf of the Avon Foundation and all of the participants in the Avon Walks, and especially on behalf of the survivors like myself, I want to thank Patrick and the Dempsey Racing team for their tremendous support. And I encourage anybody and everybody in this room, anybody who is interested in joining us for the Avon Walk who is interested in learning more about the Dempsey Racing Challenge who is interested in supporting the breast cancer cause to go to AvonWalk.org to learn more. Thank you all for coming.
J.J. O'MALLEY: Thank you very much, Barbara, Eloise, Carol, Joe and Patrick. And now we are happy to take questions.

Q. For Patrick, do you ever talk to your fellow actors about the thrill that you get out of racing and the ability to have a wonderful charity contribution at the same time?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: I think they are tired of listening to me talk about racing, so they tune me out now. Yeah, we talk about the charities somewhat.
This is such a separate thing from the show and everything else that I do. I'm the most comfortable, I come here, and the work with Avon and the Foundation, and certainly the Center, has been probably the most rewarding.
It just says a lot I think about the racing community in general. You see a lot of cars out there working in different charities and giving back to the community.
I think you are right. I think now more than ever, we do have to get involved. You see people that can't pay the bills and things like that and we really need to reach out and take care of those people now, and there is a real call for every individual to step up and make a difference, and you can make a difference. I mean, look what you've done. That's the key now, and that's where we are in the world. And to be a part of this, it really makes you really want to focus a lot more on the car and really do well for them.

Q. Your mother has been mentioned many a times in this thing. Would you please tell me what you personally went through through that deal?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: Well, yeah, thank God for my sister who worked in a hospital and is now running Center in Maine. Because the information is overwhelming; you try to navigate through it: What is proper information, where do you go, what's the right treatment, how do you navigate the insurance. All of these things, I felt completely helpless and I could not get there. Without someone like my sister, I don't think we could have done it. You feel completely helpless. And my mother is a very strong woman who doesn't want to ask for help, but you want to provide it in any way you can.
So that was something that really hit me. And then several years ago I worked with the Tour de California, I was a spokesman for the wellness group out there, and I looked into what was happening in the town I grew up there and what was the need there. And I didn't want to turn my back on the town I grew up in and I wanted to go back there; and talked to my sister and she's been really helpful, and we are making an impact in that community. It's phenomenal. We lost someone this weekend which was very sad for us and it's moving beyond belief.
Your heart goes out to these families. A young man died early on. We can't save everyone.

Q. Two-part question. The first part would be how this came together. Do you feel because of your profile and things like that, that you are able take advantage of bringing attention, and do you feel a sense of wanting to do that just because you do bring that to the table?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: I think fame in itself is quite empty unless you use it for something that's benefitting other people, you are really wasting an opportunity that you have been given.
But you have to align yourself with people that are actually going to make a difference. There are a lot of people that come up to you, but you are requesting that that money or that cause is going to get out there.
So Avon is well established, well organized, and you can see the impact that they are making. So yeah, I think it's a certain obligation that you have when you reach a certain level that you need to start giving back, and using that celebrity and that voice so that you are out there promoting and giving the energy to the right places and not wasting the gift that you've been given.

Q. This is fairly true of a lot of people that come in, celebrities or people that make another living from outside of racing. Do you feel a sense now that you are accepted and that you've proven yourself and when you come here, you're Patrick Dempsey, driver of the Mazda, as opposed that to an actor that's coming in; do you feel that from your competitors and your teammates, and yourself, do you feel that confidence?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: I think it's gaining. We have been doing this a number of years now, and Joe has been very great. Really proud of him winning the championship last year; and being in the sport for so long and being able to help him do that and then to see him do that with Scotty was an amazing realization for his talents, and also his due in the spotlight. And hopefully we will get another championship soon and see what happens.
The goal is to really be taken seriously and go out there and prove myself. I think every time I come to the track, I want to present myself professionally and earn my way through. I'm getting respected by giving respect. I have tremendous respect for this field. It is world class, and I got a chance to qualify, which is another moving moment. You look at this field, it's unbelievable, but I have to stop thinking about that when the race starts.
I'm proud to be a part of this series. I want to win a race. I want to win a championship, and we'll get there. We are fortunate, and real lucky to be racing this year when a lot of other teams are not, and I'm grateful for that. The support that I get from my fellow drivers is unbelievable. They are always very respectful, very encouraging and that's what I really love about it. I think they are such great people, men and women, in this sport, that I'm proud to be a part of it.

Q. With your busy schedule, how do you go about preparing for a long weekend like this? You probably were working early in the week, you go to work next week, and how do you stay focused and what's your driving plan?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: I wish I had more time to try and train. You need to train mentally, physically. I think with the sponsorship of specialized in the cycling has made a big difference, certainly with the lower body and just getting out there and the stamina makes a huge difference. I think there's room to work for improvement on that. Psychologically, just getting your head in the right place and listening to the right voices, there's growth to be had there.
More seat time is needed, more testing. I think that's going to come.
Setting realistic goals. I think starting the race was something that we talked about; Joe could have started or Charles could have started and gotten the car further up the field.
But for me, I really need to put myself in situations and I'm getting encouragement from my co-drivers to get out there and to do that and to practice.
I think the key in what I've been listening to, all of the other drivers that have experience here, is real patience. I think I just want to go out and take it easy and I'm not get too racy early on. I want to go out and get a good rhythm going and see where we end up in that first stint.
And got to have some luck and stay out of trouble. Just try to keep the pace. We know we have the pace. Just hope we have a little bit of luck and see what happens.

Q. Will this focus on breast cancer and the Avon Walk and your own hospital center be carried out through the whole season, and do you know how many races you'll be able to make this year?
PATRICK DEMPSEY: We'll always be talking about the walk certainly in every race we get to. And my relationship with Avon will continue on and off the track certainly.
It depends on the scheduling for my other job. Hopefully if I do a movie, they will let me out to go racing. We are working on that. We are working on the insurance policy to make that happen.
Yeah, it's hard when you step away and you don't get a chance to be at every race. It makes a huge difference. The competition is just too great. You fall back and it's hard emotionally and physically and psychologically to start over again, but you have to remind yourself to do that and take gradual steps. It's really great because these ladies have never been to a race before, so we are exposing them to an incredible event and also the history of this track and this area, so we are really excited about that.
J.J. O'MALLEY: I'd like to thank Barbara Jo, Eloise, Carol, Joe and Patrick for taking their time to join us today with some very exciting news. Thank you very much.



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