By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
In recent weeks, you have probably seen or heard a public service announcement (PSA) in which several NASCAR drivers including Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Kyle Larson, and Darrell Wallace Jr. say they will stand up, rise up if they see or know someone who is facing discrimination. This PSA is part of a campaign, RISE to Win, in which NASCAR and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equailty (RISE) have partnered to promote diversity, equality, and inclusion both inside the sport, and outside.
NASCAR already has the Drive for Diversity (D4D) program which was founded in 2004. D4D had several effects on the sport. It promoted diversity in the sport, having participating drivers in the combine include Daniel Suarez, Darrell Wallace Jr., Kenzie Ruston, and Kyle Larson. The program has expanded to include a combine for college athletes hopeful for positions on pit crews.
What makes the RISE to Win campaign different is that it strives to include the fans. Fans can take the pledge to end racism and discrimination at RISEtoWin.org. By taking this pledge, fans are saying that they will treat everyone with respect and dignity.
Everyday, people encounter discrimination and racism, sometimes without knowing it. This can range from words a person may use, to the actions or inaction of a person.
The effects of discrimination and racism are not always obvious. At other times, the effects can be obvious and long lasting. I am no expert in the field of psychology, nor do I pretend to be one. I personally, have not been a victim of discrimination or racism, but I have seen the effects it can have on a person.
This article has been very difficult for me to write. The reason being is that the person that I have seen the effects of discrimination on is my sister, Neili Eggert. Growing up, my sister was an athlete. She played softball, basketball, soccer, etc.
My sister was bullied and harassed in middle school simply because she was Jewish. It was simple at first, she was cursed at, sometimes punched, kicked, etc.
On March 10th, 1998, all of that changed. My sister was in computer class, when her tormentors started harassing her, telling her to move out of her chair. Eventually, the two girls, her tormentors, pulled the chair out from under my sister, and began to beat her with it.
My sister had a severe concussion and a blood clot in the back of her head for nearly 18 months. This caused brain damage. My sister has learning disabilities and hearing issues.
My sister will eventually need surgery on her neck, back, left shoulder, left arm, left wrist, and her left hip. She has already had two surgeries on her left knee, which has been reconstructed, two left ankle surgeries, as well as three surgeries on her left foot.
This event drastically changed my sister’s life, and the lives of my parents, as well as myself. My parents decided to home school my sister because she was afraid of walking back into the building where she was nearly killed.
Knowing what happened to my sister, I was insistent not to go to that school. My mother agreed, which was one of many reasons in which we moved to North Carolina. I have helped take care of my sister through some of her more recent surgeries. I have put off college classes or scheduled them to be at, or around, the same time as her classes to be able to help her.
Please take a lesson from this, whether or not you take the pledge on RISEtoWin.org. To take this pledge means more than simply saying that you are against discrimination or racism. It means that you should, you have to act to stop discrimination and racism. Be mindful of your own actions and words.
I wrote this, not to make you feel sorry for my sister, my family, or myself, but in an attempt to make is so that what happened to my sister never happens to anyone else.