Gary Sinise, actor, humanitarian and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, will wave the green flag as the Honorary Starter at Daytona International Speedway for the 56th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
“Gary Sinise is not only a respected and accomplished actor, but a compassionate advocate for our servicemen and women and does a tremendous amount of work for the American troops,” Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. “We are excited to have him kick off ‘The Great American Race’ by waving the green flag for the Daytona 500.”
“It’s an honor to be selected as Honorary Starter at this year’s Daytona 500 on behalf of the Gary Sinise Foundation. The race is a celebrated tradition and an important occasion to raise awareness and support for the men and women who serve our country,” said Sinise.
In addition to Sinise’s participation as Honorary Starter, a special Daytona 500 ticket package supporting the Gary Sinise Foundation is available for $90 and includes
· Daytona 500 backstretch ticket
· $10 donation to the Gary Sinise Foundation
· Access to a 15-minute fan forum with Gary Sinise prior to the Daytona 500
Acting for more than 30 years, Sinise has had many memorable roles in movies such as Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, Ransom and Truman as well as the television police drama CSI: NY. He has earned a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards and an Academy Award nomination.
A longtime supporter of the military and veteran community, in 2008 Sinise received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President George W. Bush, the second-highest civilian honor awarded to citizens for exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation – he’s only the third actor ever to receive this honor. In 2011, he founded The Gary Sinise Foundation to honor and serve our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families and those in need by creating and supporting unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen and build communities. These programs include its R.I.S.E. Outreach (Restoring Independence and Supporting Empowerment), whose flagship initiative is a custom Smart Home building project for severely wounded veterans, some of who will be attending at Daytona with Sinise. Each home is customized to ease their daily challenges and help restore independence with features like retractable cook tops, cabinets and shelving, elevators and more, all accessible via an iPad. Other programs include Relief & Resiliency Outreach, Invincible Spirit Festivals, Serving Heroes and Arts & Entertainment Outreach. The Foundation has also partnered with GE on their Get Skills to Work program to help veterans translate military skills into advanced manufacturing jobs while empowering employers with tools to recruit, onboard and mentor veterans.
Additionally, Sinise has toured in support of the troops both home and abroad with his Lt. Dan Band, his 12-member cover band. Performing pop hits to classic rock staples, they’ve played for over half-a-million troops and their families since 2004.
More information on The Gary Sinise Foundation can be found online at www.garysinisefoundation.org and on Twitter (@GarySiniseFound). For more information on tickets for the 56th annual DAYTONA 500 and Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access, race fans can go online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.