With April being known as Autism Awareness Month, a couple of eagle-eyed fans may have noticed the puzzle pieces often associated with autism awareness on a few entries in the month of April.
You can thank 18-year-old Sammy Wilson for getting those decals on some of the most dominating teams and drivers in NASCAR across the top three touring series.
Known as “NASCAR Sammy” on social media, he has made it his goal to continually spread autism awareness in the sport, from at-the-track efforts to social media, and even decals that fans can purchase.
Five years into his mission, his vision for the NASCAR community to spread awareness is reaching new heights.
Nine entries on the Camping World Truck Series grid for Saturday’s race in Richmond carried NASCAR Sammy’s own Autism Awareness decal. Sammy’s favorite driver, Kyle Busch, was among those drivers in the field with Sammy’s decal on his truck, as well as his entire KBM fleet, and fellow Toyota organization Thorsport Racing. Jennifer Jo Cobb and Norm Benning completed the roster of nine drivers to help Sammy.
— Kyle Busch Motorsports (@KBMteam) April 17, 2021
— ThorSport Racing (@ThorSportRacing) April 15, 2021
— Jennifer Jo Cobb (@JenJoCobb) April 17, 2021
It’s the latest initiative for autism awareness by Sammy and the Wilson family. In October, he launched his own “Positivity Tour”, where he traveled to seven race track venues in seven days to promote autism awareness. The tour came in part thanks to Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, gifting Sammy his own RV Trailer, and Toyota giving Sammy a brand new 4-Runner in partnership with his favorite driver, Kyle Busch.
“Seeing so many trucks on the track with my decal on them was pretty amazing and I’m very thankful to the teams who put them on their trucks,” Sammy told TobyChristie.com. “I’m extremely humbled they chose my decals, but the most important thing is showing support for Autism Awareness Month.”
The movement paid off in a big way, with John Hunter Nemechek scoring his second victory of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season at Richmond while carrying Sammy’s decal.
Oddly enough, this actually isn’t even his first time his decals are on track, let alone this year.
Earlier this month in Martinsville, a handful of NASCAR Xfinity Series entries carried his decals including Jeremy Clements and the entire DGM Racing fleet.
— Jeremy Clements (@JClements51) April 7, 2021
— DGM Racing (@dgm_racing_) April 9, 2021
Spire Motorsports even chimed in, saying on social media that the team would carry his decal on their cars for the month of April. The deal was fulfilled in Richmond this past weekend, as Justin Haley and Corey LaJoie carried Sammy’s decal on their Camaros.
— Spire Motorsports (@SpireMotorsport) April 18, 2021
The entire social media presence for the late teenager began with his parents launching a Twitter page for him to help spread his message. While attending races, Sammy would meet drivers, owners, and even NASCAR executives in the garage and pose with an Autism Awareness sign. His mother Jennifer couldn’t even imagine that the reception and love would grow to where it is now.
“When someone asks me how it feels to see the support that Sammy is receiving from the NASCAR community, it’s hard to put it into words,” she told TobyChristie.com. “Sammy has received such a huge positive response since starting his program a year and a half ago”
While teams and drivers are lending a hand in promoting his message, Sammy has taken it upon himself to give back and his efforts have caught the eyes of many big names in NASCAR. From die-cast to special merchandise – Sammy is giving thanks to the thousands of followers to help him fulfill his mission.
“He started with a hero card giveaway, and now has several trucks and cars running his special decal in honor of #AutismAwarenessMonth,” she continued. “Plus, later this summer, Marcus Lemonis is running a cup car dedicated to his program, so the word about the importance of celebrating the autism community in NASCAR is a very popular concept.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Lemonis made a friendly social media bet with Sammy earlier this season. If he had achieved 1,000 retweets on a particular tweet, Lemonis would help create a combination Camping World / Autism Awareness scheme. The goal was reached, arguably giving Sammy the biggest platform yet for his efforts.
Other sponsors in NASCAR, such as Peak Motor Oil, even got in on the action, naming Sammy the “Peak Squad Member Of The Month” in April.
— #PEAKSquad Leader (@peakauto) April 16, 2021
His efforts do not stop in the month of April. Sammy will continue to utilize his voice and platform to help continue to inform others of autism, an initiative entirely on his own. As for his future, he has expressed interest in a 2021 Positivity Tour, heading to more tracks to raise awareness for autism. He is accepting donations to help fund his journey. Companies such as Bojangles have chipped in to help Sammy continue what could become a yearly tradition.
“Sammy’s Dad and I are just so grateful to everyone for showing our son so much kindness and we are so very proud of our son,” Jennifer said. “He is a fantastic young man.”
Fans can visit NASCARSammy.com to learn more about Sammy’s story, and how you can get involved to help him spread his message of autism awareness.
Every month I receive a $10 donation to my https://t.co/HMAiwaZMZ4 #autismawareness mission. It doesn’t list the persons name on the PayPal transaction. I wish I could thank the person donating. I’m saving the money for my next #PositivityTour. Please tell me if it’s you. 🏁🧩
— NASCAR Sammy (@NASCARSammy) February 26, 2021