NASCAR driver Joey Gase shows organ donor on race car

Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 10:53 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Racing isn’t the only passion for NASCAR driver and Cedar Rapids native Joey Gase. It’s no secret that his other passion is raising awareness for organ and tissue donation after losing his mother, Mary Jo, to a brain aneurysm 10 years ago. It’s something he does every year he returns to Cedar Rapids.

“Iowa is one of the best states in the nation as far as percentage of people signed up, which is great,” said Gase. “Some states you go to and it’s horrible. It’s crazy how much that differs, but I’m really proud to say Iowa is one of the best states in the nation.”

Gase returned to his hometown track, Hawkeye Downs, on Friday and will make a return next Saturday to raise awareness for his cause in a pair of Late Model races. During Friday’s Big 8 Late Model Series race, Gase had a picture of John VanderLinden, who passed away in 2012, but saved five lives because he was an organ donor.

“He was a mechanic,” Emily VanderLinden, John’s daughter. “We grew up around races. He was a crew chief for a sprint driver back in the day. This is kind of home. This is kind of dad.”

For Gase and VanderLinden, it still amazes them the impact their family members have had as organ donors, and they know they can’t stop with their message.

“I always say the ripple effect,” said Gase. “You think about those five individuals, but what people don’t think about is all their families and all their friends, co-workers and all those people that each of those people affect.”

“I’ve done Driver’s Ed classes and will speak about my dad and hopefully register at least one person to be an organ donor if they aren’t already,” said VanderLinden.

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