The Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams will carry decals for Autism Awareness during the month of April, in support of Gray Owens, son of No. 43 Crew Chief Trent Owens. With April being Autism Awareness month and April 2 designated Global Autism Awareness Day, the team, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, will join the campaign to raise awareness for autism.
Gray, who is now six years old, was diagnosed early and now goes through therapies to cope with the disease. His dad, Owens, knows the importance of bringing awareness to autism to help find prevention and a cure.
"It's a very important month personally with having a son with autism," Owens explained. "My son was diagnosed when he was a year and a half, and he's six years old now. There's not a cure for it. It's a disease that's hard to understand, and it's very difficult from the side of getting therapies and getting help. Every autistic child is completely different, so just to have that awareness to the general public in the past few years for the month of April has been good.
"Through campaigns like Autism Awareness month, there is more awareness than there was ten years ago," he continued. "My hope is they find a way of prevention. I would love for them to find a cure - that would be awesome, but I think the more we make people aware just how present the autistic kids are in society now, the better. A new report just came out that one in 68 kids are diagnosed with some form of autism, which is pretty staggering when you think about it.
Showing that RPM is truly a family-run operation, Owens is humbled by the support from his team and acknowledges everything the NASCAR Industry has done over the years to raise awareness.
"It's very cool that the whole organization will run the decal in support. That means a tremendous amount to me, personally. Just see all the things that not only this race team is doing but also the things NASCAR has done over the years with Autism Speaks. I won a race in the trucks in Rockingham last year running an Autism Speaks paint scheme. That was a real highlight to my career to this date. I enjoy speaking about my son's autism. We don't try to hide it. We enjoy trying to let the world know, so everybody can kind of get behind it and be supportive and try to find a cure."