Denny Hamlin got to play a part in the partnership FedEx Cares has with Operation Warm, and his custom Jordan 1’s for the NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Daytona were designed by one of the underprivileged children.
While NASCAR fans might not see FedEx as the primary sponsor of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as much as they had grown accustomed to, that certainly does not mean that the transportation company’s presence isn’t felt just as much within Hamlin’s team and within the community as a whole.
FedEx teamed up with Operation Warm, a partnership that has been ongoing for more than a decade and a half, to ship over 8,400 pairs of shoes to 28 schools across North America in an effort to help alleviate the financial burden for low-income families.
The initiative was aimed at inspiring confidence and encouraging outdoor play among the recipients of the footwear.
A recent program has enabled this partnership to tie into NASCAR and Hamlin directly for this weekend’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
In July, Hamlin attended a special event hosted by FedEx Cares and Operation Warm at a Boys & Girls Club in North Carolina, where they provided custom-fit shoes for 150 underprivileged children. All children in attendance were given the chance to design Hamlin’s shoes for the Daytona race weekend.
Hamlin then selected his top three designs, and the designs were voted on by fans across the country via Instagram. The winning design was then brought to life by iconic shoe artist Sal “Kickstradomis” Amezcua.
Hamlin spoke to Beyond the Flag about the meaning of this partnership, including how special it was to help out kids in need and to watch their excitement about being able to be a part of the Jordan 1 initiative at Daytona.
“FedEx Cares and their partnership with Operation Warm that’s been going on for the last 16 years, it’s been a great partnership, and what they’re doing is trying to give underprivileged kids the opportunity to have the basics,” Hamlin said. “Shoes are some of the basics that every kid deserves.
“Thousands and thousands of pairs of shoes have been distributed to these kids all over the U.S. [I’m] proud to be a part of that. We were able to deliver 150 pairs to the Boys & Girls Club in Concord just last month, so what we also allowed them to do is have a little fun and design a Jordan 1 that I was gonna walk around in this weekend at Daytona.”
Hamlin was excited to see the end result.
“We just unboxed them; they look fantastic!” he continued. “Pearl, eight years old, designed them! So we’re excited to be able to show them off.”
While Hamlin working closely with FedEx and FedEx doing big things in the community is nothing new, Hamlin hadn’t actually been all that familiar with Kickstradomis before this initiative. That said, he is a huge fan of custom Jordans, which made this particular partnership that much more exciting for everyone involved.
“I hadn’t actually,” he admitted. “I have a few custom pairs myself, but to see that you can kind of draw in and put everything and anything you want on a sketch, and they can make it come to life, is awesome and very cool.”
Hamlin also readily admits that he is the only team owner in the Cup Series garage who owns hundreds of pairs of shoes of his co-owner’s personal brand.
“Hundreds, for sure,” he responded when asked how many total pairs of Jordans he owns. “It has to be — yeah, it’s at least 500.”
Regarding FedEx’s future in the Cup Series, nothing has been confirmed for 2024, but fans are set to see “a lot” of the company throughout the upcoming 10-race playoffs. They have not appeared on Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota as a primary sponsor since late June.
“Yeah, you’ll definitely see a lot of FedEx through the next 10 races for sure, and they’ve obviously been a great partner of ours throughout my career. We’re looking forward to representing them on the track this week.”
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NBC is set to broadcast the Coke Zero Sugar 400 live from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET this Saturday, August 26. If you have not yet had the chance to begin a free trial of FuboTV, do so today!