NASCAR’s Joey Gase holds event at Iowa DOT to support organ donation

Joey talkingAs an 18-year-old, Joey Gase of Cedar Rapids, faced a very adult decision, whether or not to donate his deceased mother’s organs. Since Gase’s mother, Mary Jo, was not married when she died of a brain aneurysm in 2011, the decision of whether to donate her organs, eyes, and tissue to save the lives of others was left to her son. Gase chose donation and in doing so, saved or improved the lives of 66 people. He said, “We knew that if my mom couldn’t continue with her life, she would want to do whatever she could to help others continue theirs.”

That reality resonated with Gase, now 23, who dedicates much of his time and celebrity as a NASCAR driver to promoting organ donation around the country. Back in Iowa to race June 20 in Newton, Gase and his race team, along with his partners at the Iowa Donor Network, came to the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Division headquarters in Ankeny June 16 for a “hands on” event to promote organ donation.

Signing the carIowa DOT employees and the public were encouraged to place their painted hand prints on Gase’s #52 Iowa Donor Network car and write a message to show support of organ donation. Those hand prints zoomed around the race track during the NASCAR XFINITY race at Newton Speedway. These personal marks make Gase’s car one of the most uniquely branded race cars in NASCAR and help Gase gain attention for organ donation.

How do you become and organ donor?


Tony Hakes
Tony Hakes, public outreach manager for the Iowa Donor Network

Tony Hakes, public outreach manager for the Iowa Donor Network, said, “In Iowa the majority of our donors have signed up through the driver’s license process. We have an exceptional partnership with the Iowa DOT and appreciate their support.”

"Saving a life, or even multiple lives, is as easy as saying ‘yes’ to organ donation when you get an Iowa driver's license or ID card,” said Mark Lowe, the Iowa DOT’s Motor Vehicle Division director. “You can do it in person, online, or at a renewal kiosk, and there's no additional fee or paperwork.  More than half of Iowa’s licensed drivers and ID holders have taken this simple step that could be the difference between life or death for someone else.”


Mark Lowe
Mark Lowe, Iowa DOT Motor Vehicle Division Director

Choosing “yes” to organ donation automatically adds your name to the Iowa Donor Network list of donors, and your license or ID card is marked to show you are an organ donor. “Making this choice means you have given legal consent to donate your organs after your death,” said Lowe. "We always try to emphasize that you're never too young and never too old to become an organ donor."

Hakes continued, “Even if you have indicated your intention on your driver’s license, you need to make sure your family members are aware of your choice so they are not surprised at the time of your death.”

You can find out more about the Iowa Donor Network at


So many people have been touched by organ donation. 

Maggie Schmeiser
Maggie Schmeiser received Mary Gase's liver. She believes she would not be alive today if Joey had not decided to donate his mother's organs.


Hands on group pic
Joey Gase, Mark Lowe and the parents of Jessica Peine, who was 5 in 1998 when she was killed walking home from school. The Peines donated Jessica's organs.













Susan and Doug VanGorkom
Susan Van Gorkom received a double lung transplant in March 2015. She and her husband, Doug, came out for the event.













Moline family
Iowa DOT MVE Capt. Chris Moline and his family - after his father-in-law was killed in a snowmobile crash, the family donated his organs.

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