Meet NASCAR’s Mike Wallace and help a friend

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ Reporter

 

Folks in Weston County have the opportunity to meet NASCAR great Mike Wallace and his son Matt while supporting Renee Smith of Upton in her battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Smith was diagnosed with the progressive neurodegenerative disease in July 2017. 

Georgeanna Materi, Smith’s mother and an Unker’s Therapeutic Products employee,  said that Smith’s condition continues to deteriorate from the disease, which is attacking her nerve cells. 

Wallace is coming to Weston County to help raise funds to purchase a chair lift and adjustable bed, as well as repair the wheelchair that was donated to Smith. The fund-raising event will be held at the Cowboy Bar in Upton on Saturday (Jan. 12) beginning at 5 p.m. The evening will feature a meet and greet with both Mike and Matt Wallace, door prizes, split the pot and karaoke beginning at 8 p.m.

Materi said that Unker’s sponsored Wallace in the Daytona 500 in 2014, beginning a relationship with the NASCAR racer. Wallace decided that now was the right time to visit the company’s hometown, and he agreed to also do the fundraiser. 

“I am coming out to visit Unker’s and hang out. I am looking forward to visiting the best little town in Wyoming,” Wallace said. 

Wallace said that his
relationship with Unker’s is unique in that it began as a business relationship and developed into a friendship. 

“This is my first trip to Wyoming; there is no quick way to get there from North Carolina,” Wallace said. 

The Missouri native said that he is excited to visit the area. He is even hoping to take in some sites, specifically Mount Rushmore. 

While visiting the northeast corner of Wyoming, Wallace will enjoy a meal at the Pizza Barn in Newcastle on Friday, where he plans on visiting with people while enjoying a meal with Unker’s employees. 

The next evening will be the fundraiser at the Cowboy Bar in Upton. 

According to Materi, the evening will include photos and autographs with both Mike and Matt Wallace for a donation, door prizes, a split-the-pot and a karaoke contest. 

“We have everything from $100 gift cards to televisions for door prizes. The more you donate, the more tickets you will get for those prizes,” Materi said. “We will also have a karaoke contest beginning at 8 p.m.” 

Materi explained that people at the event will be able to vote for their favorite karaoke team by placing money in the group’s designated buckets. The winners of the contest will split the proceeds with Smith. 

“You can come sing karaoke even if you don’t want to be in the contest,” Materi noted, adding that participants in the contest will need to pay a $5 entry fee. 

Wallace’s love for karaoke is what initiated the contest and Materi said that she was able to sing with Wallace on an early trip to one of his races. 

Those who can’t make the fundraiser but still want to meet Wallace are encouraged to contact Unker’s or stop by the Pizza Barn on Friday evening. 

“He is only going to be in town for a few short days, and we want everyone who looks forward to meeting him to have that chance,” Materi said. 

Wallace began making a living through NASCAR racing in 1991. He has raced in all three divisions and continued to race full time until 2015, he said. After taking a break to deal with health issues, Wallace said, he is resuming racing on a race to race basis. 

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