Eckrich and Almirola surprised the Shepherd family with race tickets to Sunday's race event at the track in Joliet, Ill. In addition to meeting Almirola and personally being handed tickets to Sunday's race, Almirola helped present the family with free groceries for one year on behalf of Eckrich.
Eckrich, Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports have been partnering to honor U.S. military families since 2012.
"Today continues our partnership with Eckrich and their support of military families," said Almirola. "Eckrich has always given back to military families and it's important we say thanks and honor them. We can't race without their sacrifice. In the grand scheme, this is a small token of our appreciation and we hope they enjoy the race and their free groceries for one year."
Matthew Shepherd served as an infantryman in the United States Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. His wife, Jennifer, is his caregiver and a member of Operation Homefront's Hearts of Valor® program, a network of more than 3,000 caregivers for wounded, ill or injured service members and provides caregivers with annual retreats, support groups and online communities. The family has four children.
"This means so much for a family of six," said Matthew Shepherd. "Something like this is a big opportunity for a family like us to get through months easier. We need support from our family, friends and companies and organizations like Eckrich, Operation Homefront and Jewel-Osco. It makes a big difference."
The surprise is part of the ongoing campaign by Eckrich to honor, thank and support military families through its partnership with Operation Homefront.
Eckrich, in its fifth year of partnership with Operation Homefront, has donated more than $2.5 million to the organization since 2012.
"Eckrich is proud to again partner with Richard Petty Motorsports and Aric Almirola to help us honor our military families," said Jennifer Zmrhal, Senior Director, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. "Aric has shown his commitment to supporting our campaign and we're grateful that he can help us make these events so special for the military families being honored. We also appreciate the support of Jewel-Osco as we continue in our mission to thank and honor military families across the country. We thank the Shepherd family for their service and sacrifice and are proud to present them with one year of free groceries."