Spend a few hours with Ragan and you’ll quickly see family trumps racing in the 29-year-old Georgian’s mind.
However, in the Ragan clan racing and family are rarely separated.
Ragan’s late grandfather Hugh “Preacher Ragan” owned cars that raced on the beaches of Daytona in NASCAR’s infancy. David’s late Uncle Marvin owned and drove cars for 30 years in the sport often employing David’s father Ken who ran 50 Sprint Cup races. David’s mother Beverly visits the track to support her son when she isn’t watching her granddaughter Julia, born to David and wife Jacquelyn last year.
David’s number one fan might be older brother Adam who’s been a mainstay in the Sprint Cup garage throughout David’s 10-year career sporting the hat and crew shirt of David’s team.
“I love my brother,” said David. “He’s been there for me throughout my life and I’m there for him.”
David’s also “there” for the 400,000 Americans who like Adam were born with an extra chromosome: Trisomy 21, or Down syndrome.
Due to advances in medical technology, individuals with Down syndrome are living longer than ever before. With recent advancements in clinical treatment as many as 80% of adults with Down syndrome reach age 60, and many live even longer. More and more Americans are interacting with individuals with Down syndrome, increasing the need for widespread public education and acceptance.
To continue that trend and improve opportunities for people with Down syndrome, David and Jacquelyn are again serving as the honorary chairman for the LuMind Research Down Syndrome Foundation's second Annual Race for Research held July 6-8.
Last year the foundation hoped the three-day road rally would raise $50,000. Instead, it raised $100,000 for grants and promising lines of research.
“Six thousand babies born this year in America will be affected by Down syndrome and it impacts the whole family just like it did with mine,” said Ragan.
“But there’s a lot of optimism. The science behind all this is amazing and there are some clinical trials under way that give a lot of hope. We all have dreams in life. As a racer, you know what my dreams are, but as a brother I could dream of nothing better than seeing us conquer Down syndrome. The Race for Research is about all that and it’s going to be a lot of fun along the way.”
The event is fueled by fundraising teams who spend three days in decaled passenger cars navigating through NASCAR country stopping along the way at designated "pit stops," answering scavenger hunt questions, meeting NASCAR legends and even taking laps on famous speedways. During "pit stops," as the participants complete scavenger hunt tasks, they get a chance to look behind the scenes of famous speedways and meet some of Ragan's racing friends.
The race begins at Darlington Raceway on July 6 and winds its way through the Carolinas ending July 8 at Michael Waltrip Racing and the GoPro Motorplex. Stops also include:
Darlington Raceway and Museum
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Stewart Haas Racing
Performance Instruction and Training
US Legends Cars
RCR Shop and Museum
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Michael Waltrip Racing
To sign up a team, make a donation to Ragan’s team or another team, or to learn more route details, please visit the event site at http://www.lumindraceforresearch.org