CHICAGO — Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) has invited three dozen members of Chicago community youth organizations to attend the first-ever NASCAR Chicago Street Race Weekend on July 1 and 2. BCBSIL is a founding partner of the event with official presenting, marketing and promotional rights for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Grant Park 220 and NASCAR Xfinity Series’ The Loop 121 races in downtown Chicago.
As part of its effort to improve health equity across Illinois, BCBSIL provides support to dozens of community organizations dedicated to youth development in underserved communities in Chicago’s South and Southwest neighborhoods. Programs run by these organizations prepare middle- and high-school age youth for higher education and employment.
“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is all about driving access — access to affordable, quality health care, economic empowerment and community revitalization,” said Tonita Cheatham, executive director or communications and community relations. “We’re proud to share the benefits of our NASCAR sponsorship with the young men and women in these organizations as a reward for their hard work and to give them a front row seat to the fastest-growing sport in America.”
Guests include members of After School Matters, which promotes academic preparedness and provides apprenticeship opportunities; BUILD Inc., one of Chicago's leading gang intervention, violence prevention and youth development organizations, and Mikva Challenge, which brings civics education programs to young people across Illinois. Also included are My Block, My Hood, My City, which works on a neighborhood level to introduce young people to experiences outside their communities; New Life Centers, a faith-based organization dedicated to neighborhood improvement, and Youth Guidance, which creates school-based programs to help children focus on their education.
“A big part of driving access for these organizations is giving their members exposure to the science and engineering of motorsports, the precision timing and physical demands of driving and working on a pit crew, and enjoying the excitement of team competition,” Cheatham said.
Participants will enjoy Race Day activities as guests of BCBSIL, giving them opportunities to enjoy the race and other activities along with more than 250,000 other race fans, including musical performances by Miranda Lambert, The Chainsmokers, Charley Crockett and The Black Crowes.
“We’re excited that having NASCAR here in Chicago potentially exposes young people to a new sport and all its possibilities in a setting that’s familiar to them,” said Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block, My Hood, My City. “This provides a new idea, career or interest to consider for youth who are isolated in urban settings and lets them be part of the biggest racing spectacle we’ve ever had in Chicago.”
The Chicago Street Race is the first-ever NASCAR Cup Series street race. The event will take race competitors past renowned landmarks on Michigan Avenue, South Columbus Drive, South Lake Shore Drive and the start-finish line near Buckingham Fountain. For more information, visit NASCARChicago.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is the largest health insurer in Illinois, serving 9 million members and operating in all 102 Illinois counties. BCBSIL is a division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company and an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
Dave Van de Walle