COLUMBIA — Shortly after his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night, Carl Edwards didn’t have a lot of time to celebrate the victory. He had to make it back to Columbia for a special event.
Edwards came back to his hometown Sunday to participate in the “Ride with Carl for Sam” fundraiser at State Farm Insurance, an event put together by the Sam Russell Helmet Safety Foundation, Inc. It was created to raise funds for Edwards’ long-time friend Sam Russell and his family.
Russell was seriously injured in a bicycling accident on June 28, which left him paralyzed from the waist down. He suffered broken ribs and several broken bones in his neck. He was on a test-ride trail at Trek Bicycle in Madison, Wis., where he was working, when he shot into the air and hit a tree head-on after entering unfamiliar territory. Fortunately, Russell was wearing his helmet when the accident took place.
Edwards and Russell have known each other since junior high school and the two spent time together riding mountain bikes and racing as well. Edwards left Bristol, Tenn., to help his friend, who faces a new challenge and a long road to recovery.
For a minimum donation of $50 at the fundraiser, participants could ride for 8-10 minutes with Edwards in a small group. They received an event t-shirt and a snapshot of themselves riding with Edwards. Spectators were welcome and could attend an autograph session with Edwards.
The event, which took place from 1-5 p.m., also included an auction of a Trek bike helmet autographed by Edwards and two brand new Trek “Lime” bikes. Edwards bought one of the Trek bikes for $3,000.