MOUNT VERNON — The 3rd Annual Lou Blaney Memorial campaign against Alzheimer’s disease is kicking off in Mount Vernon this year.
Scott Oliver, who took over for the Blaney family as donor coordinator, wants to bring the fight against Alzheimer’s to his hometown, where many have been affected by the disease, including Oliver’s grandmother.
“I’d like this to put Knox County above all other donors, because it’s where I’m from. I want to show everyone else what our county is made of,” Oliver said. “It’s a tight-knit, farming community and it’s one of the few counties left that actually cares about one another.”
“Here is where people have the big hearts to donate,” Oliver said.
The memorial is a sprint car race on the dirt track at Sharon Speedway in Hartford, near the Pennsylvania line, in July of each year. Lou Blaney, for whom the memorial is named, was a DIRT Motorsports and Pittsburgh Circle Track Club Hall of Famer and nationally known race car driver out of the Akron area. A victim of Alzheimer’s disease, Blaney died Jan. 25, 2009.
Oliver became familiar with Blaney as a child while watching his father race. When Blaney passed, Oliver decided it was time to act against Alzheimer’s.
“Lou’s passing woke up a lot of the racing community to the fact that it’s time to do something about Alzheimer’s,” Oliver said. “To see one of your heroes go like that — it’s personal to me and I think it’s personal to a lot of people.”
Donations for the 2nd Annual Memorial race, which finished on July 7, comprised funds from over 10 different organizations and were presented to the Alzheimer’s Foundation in the Akron and Youngstown area in the name of Blaney.
The total amount of donations from the race has not yet been figured.
Oliver’s goal for the 2011 Memorial is to raise over $50,000 for Alzheimer’s. In this campaign, however, donors will be able to specify to which Alzheimer’s foundation they would like to contribute to.
To reach his goal, Oliver has teamed up with NASCAR racers Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne, who have offered to meet with donors who give a certain level of funds.
“It’s humbling to see that these people, who society puts up on a pedestal for driving race cars actually care about charities,” Oliver said. “[Stewart] really is the real deal.”
Also new to the 2011 campaign is a competition between Oliver and Stewart.
To expand the Alzheimer’s cause to include American veterans and Stewart’s charity organization for children and animals, the Tony Stewart Foundation, Oliver will be competing against Stewart to collect the most donations.
“We’re incorporating a lot of good causes into one great cause,” Oliver said.
Though winning the competition would be a perk to Oliver, compared to raising money to help those with Alzheimer’s, he is confident that he has the support he needs to win the race, even against an experienced NASCAR driver.
“Competing with Tony Stewart is going to be hard, but with the people of Knox County behind me, we can raise some really good money.”
The next Lou Blaney Memorial will take place in July 2011 and will be held at Sharon Speedway.
Anyone interested in donating in the name of Lou Blaney should contact Oliver at (740) 485-2374.