INDIANAPOLIS - When IndyCar driver Graham Rahal is not busy in the garage or at the track during the offseason, there’s a good chance he is working to raise money for charity.
"For us on the foundation side of things, there's a lot of planning going on with Honda and some of our partners and we're looking at next year and all the new things we can do and having meetings about that, and our golf tournament of course is our major fundraiser," Rahal said.
As if May isn’t already busy enough with the Indianapolis 500, there is now the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis just two weeks before that, but somehow, Rahal will find the time to host his popular charity golf tournament – now in its third year.
"The whole premise of it is to give money to kids. And to raise money for a couple of different charities that we work especially closely with," Rahal said.
In the tournament’s first year, Rahal raised more than $150,000 for his charities, and that number is growing.
Much of what the Graham Rahal Foundation raises goes to a pair of national children’s charities, including SeriousFun Camps, founded by his former mentor and boss, Paul Newman.
"I started the foundation initially because I was upset that when he passed away, I felt that his presence in our sport somewhat disappeared. And so, I felt like I needed to take it into my own hands and make a difference," Rahal said.
The local organizations he supports include Second Helpings, The Produce Mom and Gleaner’s Food Bank of Indiana -- specifically the BackSacks: Weekend Food for Kids program.
"There are so many people who go hungry in this area. It's hard to believe, you know when I was just in there talking to them, kind of going over the numbers, it would blow your mind," Rahal said.
Rahal became the face of the BackSacks program after volunteering last year during the IndyCar Day of Caring.
"It's very important to have someone like Graham who really wants to lead the charge in the fight against, not just ending hunger, but ending childhood hunger," Willie Matis communications coordinator for Gleaners Food Bank said.
For all of the work he does through his foundation and giving back to the community, Rahal was presented with the Jefferson Award for the month of December.
"Things like that are important ... how can we help. How can we make a difference," Rahal said.
Click here to nominate somebody for a Jefferson Award -- http://bit.ly/1bB8Cmg