Wood Brothers Racing collects $30,000 for tablets to connect nursing home patients to loved ones

STUART, Va. (WDBJ) -- In Stuart, signs of spring are starting to sprout.

WDBJ7 photo

But the start of the season that often brings so much hope hasn't been easy for the folks at Blue Ridge Therapy Connection.

"It's been different because I've not been able to come," said Teresa Blackard. "I can talk to my dad on the phone, but I can't come see him and hug him. That's what's been hard for me."

Blackard is still getting used to the facility's new restrictions that don't allow her to see her dad, James, in person.

"We went to the window and waved at him and asked if he was okay and he gives us a thumbs up," she said. "That's nice that we can do that, but I feel bad for the ones that can't do that, that can't see their families."

That's where Stuart's famous Wood family enters the picture.

NASCAR's longest-active racing team started in Stuart 70 years ago, and now one "crazy idea" is helping bridge the gap COVID-19 has created.

"I feel like most of the population has some kind of way of finding self-comfort, but these people don't," said Wood Brothers Racing Senior Vice President Jon Wood. "I know that it's really the only ability they have to communicate with their families."

Wood Brothers Racing pledged $1,500 for new tablets that will give patients at the facility a way to see their loved ones.

"It obviously was no intention of mine for it to be on the scale it is now. It just took off," Wood said.

Initially, the plan was to help just the Stuart nursing home.

But with support from team driver Matt DiBenedetto, donations for the campaign have soared to $30,000, enough for 200 tablets.

"And now, I've got enough for 10 or 15 different places," Wood said.

Meaning, for people like Teresa Blackard, this spring might just bring some hope after all.

"Him being able to see me and my sisters and him being able to see my mom, 'cause that's the highlight of his life to see my mom and see that she's okay and that we're okay," Blackard said. "So that's gonna' mean a lot to these families. A whole lot."

To purchase a donation, visit the Wood Brothers Racing website.

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