A friendship began and on “Giving Tuesday” last December, Larson launched a drive to raise $50,000 for Sanneh’s Holiday Giving program. Many of Larson’s friends in the racing community contributed and helped push Sanneh to $186,635 — well past the foundation’s initial $150,000 goal.
Sanneh told AP he’s seen growth in Larson since the two first connected last spring.
“I think he’s been trying to get back to normalcy but I think he’s also changed the way he’s approached life,” Sanneh said. “This isn’t like a big smokescreen or sham. He’s interested in continual growth and getting back to being himself. This has been hard on him and people assume when you make a mistake, with cancel culture, well it doesn’t define who we are. Our life’s work does, so I’m glad he’s continued to do the work.
“Some people do a few things and then say, ‘OK, that’s behind me and I just want to concentrate on racing because that’s what I love.’ But he wants to do it all.”
After his suspension, Larson also resumed work he’d done earlier in his career with the Urban Youth Racing School, a nonprofit that helps minorities advance in motorsports. And Hendrick Cares is a charitable arm of Rick Hendrick’s empire.
It was Hendrick who reached out to Larson following his firing last April to offer emotional support. As Larson worked through NASCAR’s reinstatement program, he found a second chance with Hendrick at the race team driving the No. 5 Chevrolet. Hendrick believes so strongly in Larson that he’s funding the car out of pocket, convinced sponsors will see who Larson really is and eventually partner with one of NASCAR’s most talented drivers.
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