LONG POND, Pa. - Joey Gase had only a matter of hours to decide. His mother, Mary Jo, died of a brain aneurysm in April 2011 and thousands of things were on his mind. Before, he was focused on racing, going to the prom, and graduating from high school.
Gase hadn't spoken with his mother about becoming an organ donor. Because his parents were divorced, Gase was next of kin, meaning he'd have to sign the paperwork. After discussing the matter with family, his mother's organs were donated. Later, Gase found out her donations helped 66 people.
"We knew if she couldn't continue her life, she'd want to do anything she could to help others continue theirs," said Gase, 23.
To preserve his mother's legacy, each week Gase's car features the logo of his sponsor, Donate Life, along with photos of organ donors, recipients, and those on the 120,000-person national waiting list. Gase will race at Pocono Raceway for the first time Saturday in the first Xfinity Series race at the track.
Gase, who is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the inaugural Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award in November. Comcast donated $60,000 to the Iowa Donor Network.
"I didn't want anyone to be in the same situation my family was in," Gase said.
Fans come up to Gase every week at tracks around the country - not just for an autograph, a photo or a minute to chat. They meet him to share their stories about organ donations and in turn, Gase shares his.
"If you're not getting it in the public eye, there's not going to be more donors," Gase said, "and if there's not more donors, there's not going to be more recipients."