The owner of Panther Racing Inc. has received an honor for supporting the Armed Forces. John Barnes was presented with the Spirit of Hope award during a ceremony at the Pentagon. The distinction is named in tribute to entertainer Bob Hope. November 20, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Panther Racing team owner John Barnes joined the likes of Walter Cronkite, Rudy Giuliani and former President George H. W. Bush today as he was honored with the prestigious “Spirit of Hope” award during a ceremony at the United States Pentagon. Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, presented the award during a ceremony that was attended by General Frank Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, US Congressman Sanford Bishop, former Congressmen Chet Edwards and Steve Buyer and several other distinguished guests.
“This was an unbelievably humbling experience,” Barnes said. “I can't thank Admiral Winnefeld and everybody with the Department of Defense enough for this honor. When you work as closely as we do with National Guard soldiers and their families you can't help but do everything in your power to support them however possible. I feel like Panther can always do more, and we're always looking for ways to improve all of our programs and to represent all those men and women in the best way possible. But we don't do it for awards like this; we do it because it's right.”
The Spirit of Hope award is given annually to individuals whose, “commitment and dedication to service in support of the Armed Forces and their families embodies the ideals and values exemplified by the late Mr. Bob Hope.”
Barnes has led the team's efforts to support both soldiers and their families since the National Guard became Panther's primary IndyCar Series partner in 2008. Most recently the team formed its “Operation: Hire Our Guard” veteran unemployment program that fights unemployment issues facing National Guard soldiers. As part of the program Panther invites local business and military leadership to its events and educates employers on the unemployment crisis and the benefits of hiring Veterans, and then makes the connections between the companies in attendance and local military leadership.
Earlier this year Barnes testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans Affairs during a Congressional hearing entitled, “Lowering the Rate of Unemployment for the National Guard and Reserve – Are We Making Progress?” During the 2012 season alone Panther's program provided Veterans exposure to approximately 9,300 job opportunities and – based on a conservative approach – more than 5,000 National Guard soldiers have been employed as a result of the “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program.
About the Spirit of Hope Award:
The Spirit of Hope award was established in 1997 and is presented by the Wiegand Foundation in honor of Bob Hope, the famed entertainer and supporter of military personnel. The award is presented to men and women of the Armed Forces, entertainers and other distinguished Americans or organizations that embody Hope's commitment and service to the men and women of the military. Previous recipients included actor Gary Sinise, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Walter Cronkite, Ann-Margret and former President George H. W. Bush.
Source: Panther Racing Inc.