Staff Sergeant Randy Gray and his family will be treated like royalty this weekend at the Pocono Raceway thanks to Eckrich, Weis Markets and Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM). Gray, a member of the National Guard will be a guest of Eckrich and "The King" Richard Petty.
Eckrich, through its partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and Operation Homefront, surprised Gray, his wife and two sons inside Weis Markets Tannersville store. While shopping for Eckrich smoked sausage, the family was greeted by members of the No. 43 team who surprised them with free groceries for one year at any Weis Markets location. The team then invited Staff Sergeant Gray and his family outside where the No. 43 Eckrich Ford drove up to the store front. A member of the RPM team invited the Gray family to not only join them at the track this weekend, but informed them they would be guests of "The King" Richard Petty.
Staff Sergeant Gray, who lives in Hunlock Creek, PA, recently returned from a nine month deployment in Kuwait and is currently in the Wounded Transition Unit after sustaining an injury. Gray was enlisted as active duty in the Air Force from 1991 to 1993 before joining the National Guard and deploying to Kuwait.
To ensure that that the Gray family will have an authentic Richard Petty experience, they received an RPM shirt, similar those worn by Richard Petty, and additional items that make up the signature Richard Petty look including, sunglasses, a belt buckle and a Richard Petty Charlie One Horse Cowboy Hat. The Gray family will join Petty and the team atop of the famed No. 43 race transporter to watch practice and qualifying sessions of driver Aric Almirola before viewing the race from the pit box during Sunday's event.
The surprise was part of the Eckrich "Operation Inspiration" campaign which supports and honors military families. The free groceries for a year at Weis Markets and the opportunity to join Richard Petty this weekend is something that the Gray's are grateful for.
"I was really taken back by everything," said Gray after the event. "It's awesome to have Eckrich, Weiss and Richard Petty Motorsports do something like this for us. It's really my wife who has to sacrifice when I'm serving. It's humbling to see people recognize what they go through and it means a lot to me. We're really excited for the race weekend."
Now in its third year of partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors,Eckrich has already donated more than half a million dollars to the charity. This year, Eckrich is again planning to donate up to $250,000 through the contribution of five cents from each purchase of specially marked products from May 1 through July 4.
"We are proud to honor our military families," said Charles Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group. "Our partnerships with Richard Petty Motorsports, Operation Homefront and Weis Markets allowed us to give back in a very special and unique way today. It's something that we're very proud to do for the Gray family after all of their sacrifices for us."
The family will attend the Pocono 400 this Sunday. The event will be televised nationally live by TNT beginning at 1 p.m. ET.