‘It’s not easy’: NASCAR’s Ryan Newman rallying to keep Rescue Ranch afloat

STATESVILLE, N.C. — Ryan Newman has overcome tough times before.

In February, the NASCAR driver miraculously survived a crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Within days, a photo captured the moment the father of two walked out of the hospital, hand in hand with his young daughters.

“I’ve been blessed with several layers of miracles, to be standing here today,” Newman said.

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These days, “here” is often at the Rescue Ranch, the family’s nonprofit animal welfare organization in Statesville. Formed in 2012, the farm has fostered and rescued dozens of animals, with a focus on teaching humane treatment, care and wildlife conservation.

“Literally next week, I’ll be out here cutting hay,” Newman joked.

Newman is right at home on the ranch, sharing stories of his daughter’s exuberant ease with snakes from the time she was 2 years old, or gushing over his dear friend Charlie, a massive steer.

For all the peace they enjoy on the farm, apart from the NASCAR life, in recent weeks, things at the ranch have gone too quiet.

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Newman’s nonprofit is not exempt from the devastating effects of COVID-19. Fundraising events and educational programs have all been canceled. The ranch is looking at ways to host summer camps with reduced group sizes and increased sanitization standards.

Director of Development Elizabeth Neuman estimates the economic blow to the Rescue Ranch could exceed $60,000 going into May.

“Even our volunteers, we really had to cut back the number of volunteers that we’re able to bring in on a daily basis because of social distancing,” Neuman said. “It’s an oasis in a sense, and I think even the animals, they just miss interacting with people."

The Rescue Ranch recently launched an online fundraising campaign, “Rally Together for Rescue Ranch.” Thursday, the fundraiser reached nearly 30% of its goal of $54,000.

“It makes it a challenge,” Ryan Newman said. “We still have to feed the animals. We still have responsibilities.”

“It’s not easy, so we appreciate the donations that help make a difference.”