Alex Palou aims to shine light on veteran suicide with American Legion ‘Be The One’ car at Indy 500
When Alex Palou gained the pole at the Indianapolis 500, setting the quickest four-lap common velocity in historical past at 234.217 miles per hour, his thoughts was on one thing greater than the highest beginning place for the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
During an interview with NBC Sports after his finish, he regarded into the digicam and mentioned one thing that resonates with his major sponsor, the American Legion.
“This one today is for every veteran in the United States,” Palou mentioned.
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Racing sponsors intention to promote a product, whether or not it’s motor oil, tires or comfortable drinks. But Palou and Chip Ganassi Racing have an American Legion wrap on their No. 10 Honda that claims “Be The One” on its aspect and spoiler.
It’s an vital message that hits tougher on Memorial Day weekend in Indianapolis.
In the United States, 17 veterans commit suicide day by day. The American Legion’s “Be The One” campaign needs to not solely decrease that quantity however eradicate veteran suicide.
Palou, who was born in Spain and has solely lived within the United States 4 years, admitted he wasn’t too comfy being the face of this impactful group for veterans as a result of “I never had any family member that was a veteran.”
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However, tales from individuals on his staff and studying extra in regards to the mission shortly modified his thoughts.
“It was huge to learn that we have some veterans in our team, and they could really explain what they went through, what friends went through and really send the message we wanted to keep and what our priority was. It was not to sell motor oil or any product. It was to save veterans’ lives,” Palou advised Fox News Digital earlier than the 107th Indy 500.
“It’s tough to understand when you don’t have the experience from somebody close to you. But, honestly, [the team] made it a lot easier to understand. From that point, it was like, ‘OK, we need to help people.’ If we can help make sure that the racing fans know there’s the ‘Be The One’ initiative, that they can get some help, everybody can help somebody.”
It was additionally vital to Chip Ganassi, whose father fought in World War II.
American Legion Executive Director Dean Kessel defined the “Be The One” marketing campaign to Fox News Digital.
“Our whole goal with what we’re doing with ‘Be The One’ is destigmatize asking for help,” he defined. “That’s the No. 1 issue with veterans either seeking mental help or when they contemplate suicide. It’s OK to not be OK. We want to be able to destigmatize the message around that.”
The American Legion has been in existence 104 years, and Kessel identified how the group has been instrumental within the creation of the G.I. Bill, which gave World War II veterans entry to free tuition, mortgage help and extra and compensation for Vietnam veterans uncovered to Agent Orange.
Today, Kessel mentioned, “health and suicide, in particular,” are the most important points veterans face getting back from post-9/11 and Afghan excursions, which is how the “Be The One” marketing campaign got here to be.
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“The phrase itself has a lot of intentional meaning to it. The reason that we’re using the word ‘one,’ we don’t want to talk about the 17 that die every day. We want to talk about the one we can save today,” Kessel mentioned. “If you save one today, that number goes down by default.
“Secondly, we would like to use motion verbs. … Be the one to speak to a veteran, be the one to hear to a veteran, be the one to work regionally with your laws to assist with veteran points, be the one to rent a veteran.”
Palou’s “Be The One” No. 10 car was on full display prior to poling at the Indy 500. He won the 2023 GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 13, his first victory in that vehicle.
That win, along with four top five and five top 10 finishes, has Palou leading the IndyCar Series in points with 174. With Indianapolis the home of the American Legion, the victory meant so much to the organization as members watched their guy cross the finish line and hold the trophy at race’s end. The same feeling came when he poled this week.
“You have all these forces coming collectively at one time,” Kessel said about the Indy 500 this weekend. “We’re an Indianapolis-based group. It’s Memorial weekend. We’re the American Legion with our huge influence throughout the nation. And to have Alex not solely win the pole, however he gained the race final week main up to the pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Now, to be in that place for the biggest race on the globe is only a phenomenal happenstance for us.”
Palou hopes that’s the case again Sunday, and not just to maintain his spot at the top of the points column.
“To win on Memorial Day weekend with the American Legion in Indianapolis, I believe that may be big for the American Legion, for us on the racing aspect, clearly. But we might have the option to unfold the ‘Be The One’ initiative much more,” he mentioned.
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“I’ll do the whole lot I can to get that No. 10 car on victory lane.”