NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Joe Vaughn, a longtime volunteer and leader with the South Carolina-based Project HOPE Foundation that serves the autism community, won the ninth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award on Thursday night.
Vaughn received the award and $100,000 donation to the Project Hope Foundation during NASCAR's season-ending awards ceremony at the Music City Center. The award honors the philanthropic ideals and vision of The NASCAR Foundation's late founder and chairperson.
Vaughn, from Woodruff, South Carolina, was part of a group of four finalists all considered longtime NASCAR fans. Vaughn is the chairman of the Project HOPE Foundation and has helped raise more than $2.5 million for the organization, which provides programs and services to autistic children.
''The families served by Project HOPE Foundation are in the race of their lives, a race for critical services for their children with autism,'' Vaughn said. ''This funding will support our efforts by providing 10,000 hours of therapy teaching life-changing skills.''
The NASCAR Foundation also will donate $25,000 to the charities represented by the other finalists: Bob Behounek of Berwyn, Illinois, representing Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana; Nicole Hamby of the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Charlotte; and Todd Smith of Perris, California, representing the Fuel for Success youth initiative.