Editor’s note: This is the fourth installment of a four-part series on the four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s 10th annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.
Rich Langley’s son and a school project led him to volunteer with the Roc Solid Foundation, an organization based in Virginia dedicated to building hope for kids battling cancer by giving them an opportunity to play. Langley built his first playset for a friend’s son who lost his battle. Nine years and 160 playsets later, Langley is a devoted leader among the Roc Solid volunteer network guiding a 30-person build team and earning the title "Navy Seal." He builds hope for children in the toughest fight of their lives.
Roc Solid’s humble beginnings stem from a pediatric cancer patient beating the odds. The Foundation’s mission is to reintroduce "play" for childhood cancer patients. When first diagnosed, play time is something almost certainly stripped from a young child’s life.
"That moment when the child sees their playset for the very first time never fails to put my life in perspective," Langley said.
Over the years, he has learned the organization builds hope no matter what, no matter where.
While Langley is employed full time, he has taken countless days away from his job to participate in 25 travel build projects that took him across the U.S. An avid cyclist, he has also raised $7,000 for the organization by completing two 300-mile bike rides for the "Roc the Ride" fundraiser.
Langley’s caring personality and incredible work ethic have touched hundreds of families. One of his favorite memories is building a playset for Gracie, a four-year-old suffering from neurofibromatosis. Gracie’s parents adopted her knowing her condition, and Langley has remained in touch with them after the Roc Solid experience. Gracie even came to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2019 to cheer on Langley as he went "Over the Edge" to raise funds for The NASCAR Foundation.
Langley, from Virginia Beach, Virginia, is one of four finalists for The NASCAR Foundation’s 10th annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award. The award, named in honor of the foundation’s late founder and chairwoman, honors NASCAR fans who are accomplished volunteers working for children’s causes in their communities throughout the United States.
A NASCAR fan for 45 years, Langley favors "The Intimidator." He enjoyed watching the 2020 Daytona 500 at the "World Center of Racing" just before the start of the pandemic. His love of NASCAR has only grown through his opportunity to work with the Roc Solid Foundation and Richard Childress Racing.
The winner of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will be determined via an online fan vote that is ongoing through Nov. 4 at 12 p.m. ET at NASCARfoundation.org/Award. The winner will be announced virtually Nov. 5. Each of the finalists is guaranteed a minimum donation of $25,000 from The NASCAR Foundation, with the overall winner receiving a $100,000 donation from The NASCAR Foundation.
If Langley wins, some of the nearly 16,000 children diagnosed every year with pediatric cancer will have the opportunity to play again. Specifically, Roc Solid Foundation would be able to build 20 playsets for deserving children and their families and also provide 100 Ready Bags for families including whatever they might need for an unexpected hospital stay.
While Roc Solid isn’t curing cancer, it is changing the way a child and a family fight the disease from the very beginning of their journey.
"I would do anything," Langley said, "to give hope to these families."