‘Best Buddy’ Daniel Noltemeyer wins Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award

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In one of the more emotional moments of Friday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet, Daniel Noltemeyer was named winner of the fourth annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.

Noltemeyer is a founder of Best Buddies Kentucky, an organization devoted to social inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Noltemeyer, 32, of Louisville, Kentucky, has Down syndrome, yet has overcome his disability to be an advocate whose reach spans both the U.S. and internationally as an ambassador for Best Buddies International, founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver.

“I am so honored [by this award],” Noltemeyer said in a statement. “I helped found Best Buddies Kentucky five years ago [and] I want to give back to an organization that has changed my life. I have learned to be a strong advocate for myself and others with disabilities, but most of all, I have made special friendships.

“I want to expand programs to make friendships possible for everyone. It’s like a dream come true to win this award to show the world how much someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities can accomplish.”

Noltemeyer was one of four finalists for the award. Best Buddies Kentucky will receive $100,000 for Noltemeyer receiving the most votes in a ballot of readers of NASCAR.com.

“Daniel says he is honored by winning the award; I want to emphasize that the feeling is mutual,” Betty Jane France said. “He is a remarkable young man, an inspiration to not only people with IDD, but everyone.

“Daniel was part of a very elite group of finalists this year, a group that NASCAR fans really responded to, as we had the closest voting in the award’s four years of existence.”

Three other finalists received $25,000 each for their organizations:

* Tammy Anderson-Lee, representing the Autism Society San Diego where she has developed adaptive swimming programs for children with Autism.

* Amber Larkin of Windermere, Florida, founder of the Noah’s Light Foundation, which is involved in the fight against pediatric brain cancer.

* Chris McElwee of Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, founder of Michael’s Way, which provides financial assistance to families dealing with expenses resulting from children’s cancer.

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