By Joyce DeWallace
Southborough – Bruce Ledoux has a dream – a big dream.
“My goal is to get just half of NASCAR's 76 million fans to donate $1 apiece to help us raise money for children's charities,” he said.
To do this, he and his wife, Linda, have spearheaded the formation of a charitable foundation that combines their love of racing with their interest in helping children with severe and costly medical problems.
The result is the nonprofit Guardian Angel Motorsports (GAM), a group of like-minded racers, who have banded together through the most popular sport in America, to help needy children. Bruce is a wealth manager by profession and a certified high-performance driving instructor for the BMW, Ferrari and Corvette clubs of Massachusetts by avocation. He loves racing and has competed in six races so far this year, and plans another big race in September, the Emco Gears Classic in Lexington, OH.
In January 2007, Bruce went to his friends and clients and asked them to pledge so much per lap for the epic 24-hour race at Daytona. They managed to donate $70,000 to Children's Hospital in Boston. Inspired by his success, Bruce approached his colleagues and fellow racers to make a bigger commitment to GAM.
As co-founder, David Quinlan, another racer with a day job in financial services, is always looking for more ways to combine motorsports with charitable fund-raising. Joining the founders were Dan Watkins, a veteran of the Ferrari challenge series, who runs a financial software company; Steve Zadig, a businessman who is currently building a new start-up company, Telegent Systems, and is heavily into endurance racing; and Kurt Kossman, a cancer survivor with over 20 years of racing experience.
“My model and inspiration to make Guardian Angel Motorsports into the largest fund-raiser for kids in need is the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge run by Billy Starr. Their bike-a-thon raises more money than any other athletic fund-raising event in the country. So I called Billy and asked him to help me get this started,” Bruce said.
“I want to create a Guardian Angel army. We need more of people's time as volunteers. We need more ideas to grow successfully. We need more exposure, and we need to always touch more people who have needs,” Bruce explained. “Our mission is to use motorsports to raise money and awareness for children who suffer disease, illness or abuse.”
Why did the Ledouxs decide to take on such a major cause? Their second child, Colin, was born with a disorder that affects his brain development. Soon after his birth, they learned their son had extensive food allergies, and at two months was diagnosed with global chromosomal developmental delays. Their difficult situation made them aware of the resources and support necessary to provide for a child with special needs. “We have had huge expenses not covered by insurance,” Bruce said.
Colin, now 7, just finished first grade at the Mary Finn School in Southborough. According to his father, he has made amazing progress.
“We gave them a kid who didn's know his numbers or colors, and the school has worked miracles,” Bruce said. “He can count to 100. He can write stories and read books. They'se covered milestones with him that the original neuropsychologist said he had less than 15% chance of achieving.”
The Ledouxs saw families struggling with similar problems and have made it their mission to lend a helping hand and financial support to other children like Colin. Bruce deals with numbers all the time and hopes to keep increasing GAM's contributions to various charities and individuals. So far, the foundation has donated over $150,000 to eight charities. His wife, who recently attended a two-day racing school, is equally committed and works on planning the fund-raising events.
“Please help our cause, and help us become the guardian angels these kids deserve,” Bruce added.