When people think of Dale Jarrett, NASCAR immediately comes to mind.
The former stock car driver and current ESPN broadcaster racked up a long list of trophies throughout his career, including the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and three Daytona 500 trophies. Jarrett, the son of NASCAR legend Ned Jarrett, won an additional 43 times on the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series combined.
But area citizens may soon start associating the Catawba County native with a completely different organization — Hospice.
Palliative CareCenter & Hospice of Catawba Valley recently named Jarrett as their official spokesperson, a role the NASCAR great thinks can be utilized to also change Palliative’s public perception.
“When you think of Hospice most of the time, you think of those last few hours, but there is so much more there,” Jarrett said. “Most of us, for years, associate the name Hospice with the dying side. And yeah, that’s potentially what’s going to happen there, but there’s so much more there to it. It’s about living there during that time, and getting the most out of life at the end of your life.”
Palliative personally served several of Jarrett’s family members, which he said allowed him to see the wide range of services the organization offers. The scope of Palliative’s care can range for Hospice care for someone with a difficult diagnosis to the center’s Brighter Days program, which is designed to support children dealing with the loss of a loved one.
“It allowed everyone to come together at a place, and kind of be there as a group,” Jarrett said about his experience. “And even have the people there working become a part of that and they seem to become a part of your family.”
Palliative President and Chief Executive Officer David Clark said after meeting Jarrett and offering him the spokesperson position, the former NASCAR driver “grinned real big and said, ‘sure.’”
“Somebody with name recognition and voice recognition like Dale has, lots of people will isten and hear the message he has,” Clark said.
“We’ve been thrilled ever since he’s joined, and we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the Charter television advertisement.”
Clark said Jarrett has done eight or nine educational advertisements for Palliative, focusing on four different parts of the program. Clark hopes that someone with Jarrett’s notoriety will bring more awareness to the programs Palliative has to offer.
“We want more people to know about Hospice and how to get help,” Clark said. “They need to be aware of what it is, and that we are here. We’re pleased that a person of his background realizes and recognizes the benefits of Hospice and is willing to pass along his experience to help others learn about Hospice as well.”
Clark added that Palliative is opening a new center in Sherrill’s Ford around September and hopes that Jarrett will be able to attend.
Jarrett agrees with Clark that his main goal as spokesperson is to bring more awareness to what Palliative has to offer.
“Hospice can get involved in your life in much earlier times than at the end of your life. They offer a lot more in helping improve your quality of life as you go through those difficult years. This is where it is important that we all learn more about what is offered and there is a better way out there than the suffering that many go through.”