2018 Infinite Hero Foundation challenge coins pay tribute to Terry Chandler and honor her memory
Since 2014, every time Jack Beckman has strapped into his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Funny Car, he has carried challenge coins with him.
The coins are a commemorative fundraising tool for the Infinite Hero Foundation, an organization that combats the most difficult front line issues facing returning military heroes and their families. After each pass, Beckman signs the coins with the name of the event venue, E.T., and speed from the run. The coins are available to those who have made a $100 donation and have contributed to the nearly $450,000 raised for the Infinite Hero Foundation through the NHRA program.
Beckman debuted the official 2018 challenge coin design during the 58th annual NHRA Winternationals. This year’s coin pays special homage to the beloved NHRA mainstay and dedicated philanthropist, the late Terry Chandler.
One side of the 1.28-oz zinc challenge coin features the purple and white Infinite Hero logo. The other side features Chandler’s initials, ‘TC.’
“The letters T and C are Terry’s initials, but they also stand for ‘true compassion,’ which Terry embodied,” said Laurie Baker, Executive Director of the Infinite Hero Foundation.
“Each year the design has changed. Terry started the ‘giving car’ program, and we’re considering this year’s coin to be the ‘giving coin.’ The giving coin represents her spirit.”
A longtime member of the Don Schumacher Racing family, Chandler established the ‘giving car’ program in 2014. Chandler opted to personally fund the Funny Car piloted by Tommy Johnson Jr. and use the racecar as a platform to promote awareness for a great cause, the Make-A-Wish organization.
During the 2014 season, Chandler’s desire to give back grew even more, and she began funding a second team at DSR with 2012 Funny Car world championship driver Jack Beckman behind the wheel. The branding for the racecar was dedicated to another organization that touched Chandler’s heart, the Infinite Hero Foundation.
Through Chandler’s giving car program, the two organizations have benefitted from on-track activities, fundraising assistance, and increased awareness through exposure to millions of television viewers and Mello Yello series spectators 24 weekends a year.
In early 2017, Chandler was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer. Sadly, the adored starting line fixture, who was presented with the NHRA Blaine Johnson Award in 2015 for her dedication to helping others, lost her valiant fight against the disease later that summer.
Chandler’s husband, Doug Chandler, knew how passionate she was about her giving car program, and pledged to continue to fund it through 2020.
“We’re so grateful to the Chandler family. Now we’re approaching year five, and the half-million-dollar mark, and that’s because of what Terry started,” said Baker, adding, “She was an incredibly passionate person who inspired so many; not just inspiring them to donate by purchasing a coin, but she inspired them to share their own stories and experiences.”
For Beckman, the 2018 Terry Chandler-tribute challenge coin is bittersweet.
“The last thing I would have thought four years ago when Terry made the commitment to brand our car with Infinite Hero to help out injured veterans is that we’d be doing a challenge coin as a memorial for her. I mean, it rips my heart out,” said the 2012 Funny Car World Champion and former U.S. Air Force sergeant
“Thanks to Doug, Terry’s husband, and his recognition of how much this program meant to her, and his deciding to move forward with it as well as the Make-A-Wish program, Terry’s legacy gets to live on with all of the NHRA fans, soldiers and Wish Kids.”
“We can still change lives for the better, and I think every time you do that it’s hard not to smile. Thinking about Terry is tough for me because it hurts, it hurts deep, but this is something that lets her live with all of us, and I love that,” added Beckman.
Coins are available to those who make a donation of at least $100 to the Infinite Hero Foundation. Donations can be made at the IHF Funny Car pit during all 24 NHRA national events. Coins are available on a first come, first serve basis.