Ryan Newman and fellow Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are helping to honor military spouses as part of the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola program, and he recently interviewed Stacy Bilodeau, the Armed Forces Insurance 2018 Coast Guard Military Spouse of the Year. Bilodeau has been a military spouse for 11 years, five as a United States Marine Corps spouse and six as a United States Coast Guard spouse.
On behalf of Stacy, NASCAR & Coca-Cola will donate to USO programming that supports and strengthens military spouses, like the USO Care Package Program.
RELATED: Austin Dillon with Shelia Brookins
“The USO is truly amazing. When my husband was deployed to Afghanistan with the Marine Corps, he said their care packages were the most amazing. He said they were the most awesome care packages that he received except the ones I sent. He said everything inside of them was something he needed, and the stuff I sent him just took up room,” Bilodeau said with a laugh.
The USO Care Package Program harkens back to the USO‘s early years when Americans packed boxes full of little “tastes of home” to keep deployed service members connected to the people, places and things most important to them. More than 82,000 USO Care Packages were delivered in 2017.
Bilodeau said she also values the USO Centers, particularly the airport centers.
Bilodeau loves to volunteer and says serving those who serve has always had a special place in her heart. Meeting Bilodeau and hearing about her family and the USO programs was a special experience for Newman, as well, as he moved into the role of interviewer.
“For me, it’s not just my first interview, it’s with someone who is deserving of more attention than she probably gets,” Newman said. “I’ve witnessed, I’ve seen, I’ve heard the stories of what it is to serve your country, to serve people, to provide our freedom. It takes a different person, don’t get me wrong, but at the same time, I learned she’s just like me. She’s raising a family. She’s got ironically two kids that are 5 and 7 just like my wife and I. It puts things in perspective and makes you realize no matter who you are we breathe the same air and fight the same fight.”
Through the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers will honor a military spouse each week.