#StandWithSam 20th Anniversary Gala celebrates Conquer Paralysis Now milestone
Popular fundraiser on Aug. 20 during Indy 500 week goes virtual but retains exciting components
INDIANAPOLIS (July 29, 2020) – It will be a night to remember when Conquer Paralysis Now (CPN) hosts a special, virtual #StandWithSam 20th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, Aug. 20 beginning at 7 p.m. EDT. The Gala celebrates CPN founder and INDYCAR team owner Sam Schmidt’s dedication to finding a cure for spinal cord injuries. Once again, the popular event coincides with activities leading up to the world-famous Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.
CPN and its predecessor, the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation, have hosted an in-person fundraiser Gala in Indianapolis each May at the traditional time of the Indy 500, with the racing community providing extensive support. While the event takes on a new form in 2020 – this year’s #StandWithSam 20th Anniversary Gala will be an online virtual experience – it will still contain many of the highlights that have made it a mainstay of Indianapolis 500 race week.
Fans from across the country may sign up for free to virtually attend the event individually and there is an option to host a watch party as well. VIP virtual cocktail party packages are available that include bottles of Pianetta Special Label wine, CPN 20th anniversary wine glasses and Bloomin’ Brands gift cards for two ($150 for the VIP package), six ($450) or 12 people ($900), but they are limited in quantity and must be secured by Monday, Aug. 3. A variety of event sponsorship levels remain available as well.
Celebrity guests from the motorsports world will be on hand during the virtual event, live and silent auctions featuring unique prizes will be available to bidders along with “live” music. CPN is asking the community to #StandWithSam and support this year’s milestone event.
“I wouldn’t be here today, period, without the support of the motorsports community,” Schmidt says. “The community has always provided an incredible amount of encouragement and motivation, in addition to tremendous financial support, which has always kept our foundation going. It really is a family.
“This being the 20th anniversary of the Gala, I never certainly thought I’d live this long, let alone be able to continue my pursuit of winning on the racetrack. To also be able to make an impact in the lives of so many individuals with disabilities these past 20 years is just a blessing.”
Schmidt will host the #StandWithSam 20th Anniversary Gala. Dave Calabro, Indianapolis TV personality and Indianapolis Motor Speedway track announcer, and veteran motorsports pit reporter Jamie Little will emcee the event from a private club inside the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dignitaries scheduled to attend virtually include new track owner and legendary racing magnate Roger Penske, racing great Mario Andretti, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, reigning Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and more.
“The more I’m getting into this virtual event production, it’s pretty cool,” Schmidt says. “The ability to bring in the guest appearances from a number of people that could not have participated live is fantastic, and to be able to tell our story in an organized fashion and what we have accomplished over the last 20 years. To have the Gala combined with watch parties around the country, it literally opens it up to so many more supporters who have wanted to attend past Galas but could never physically attend. I’m pretty excited about it. Hopefully, it reaches an even bigger market than we did with our in-person events in the past.”
For more information about how to participate in the #StandWithSam online virtual experience, visit www.storybook.link/standwithsam. Sponsors of the #StandWithSam 20th Anniversary Gala are Arrow, BraunAbility, Amish Country Gazebos and Firestone.
Schmidt started CPN in 2000, shortly after his IndyCar driving career ended when a testing accident left him a quadriplegic. His dogged determination has helped CPN raise nearly $18 million for spinal cord injury research and treatment. It also funded the DRIVEN NeuroRecovery Center, an accessible fitness facility that opened in Schmidt’s hometown of Las Vegas in 2018 and allows individuals with disabilities to improve their physical, mental and emotional health.