In a poignant and heartfelt tribute to Sherry Pollex, it is with heavy heart that we announce her passing at the age of 44. Sherry, who forged a deep connection between the NASCAR community and the fight against cancer through her philanthropic efforts, succumbed to the very disease she had valiantly battled since her diagnosis in 2014.
Sherry Pollex played a pivotal role in the establishment of “Catwalk for a Cause,” a charitable fashion gala that united the NASCAR industry in the fight against childhood cancer. Founded in 2010, this event has raised over $4 million to support initiatives aimed at combatting this devastating disease.
Remarkably, Sherry’s dedication to this cause began four years before her own diagnosis of stage 3 ovarian cancer at the age of 35. Her charitable work extended to funding research to advance the treatment and care of ovarian cancer, an area where she believed there had been relatively little progress over the past three decades. In 2020, her foundation partnered with Novant Health in Charlotte to launch the Sherry Strong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic.
Sherry Pollex and her former boyfriend, Martin Truex Jr., received the Myers Brothers Award from the National Motorsports Press Association in 2017 for their outstanding contributions to stock car racing. Additionally, she was a finalist for the 2022 Comcast Community Champion Award.
Tragically, Sherry could not attend the 2023 Catwalk event, which took place just last Wednesday. However, the event’s co-hosts paid tribute to her in their opening remarks, lauding her as “an absolute hero” while the crowd rose in a standing ovation.
NASCAR released the following statement:
“NASCAR is saddened to learn of the passing of Sherry Pollex, whose battle with cancer and determination to help others through the Sherry Strong Foundation was an inspiration to all who knew her. NASCAR and the NASCAR Foundation’s thoughts and prayers are with Sherry’s family and friends.”
Born on May 10, 1979, in Marshall, Michigan, Sherry later moved with her family to Brighton, Michigan. Both cities were nearly an hour’s drive from the Michigan International Speedway, where she watched NASCAR races with her family in her youth, donning a Rusty Wallace t-shirt alongside her older sister, Jill.
Sherry Pollex once described her home state in a 2015 interview with Detroit Free Press, saying, “The smell of pine trees, the lakes… people just don’t know how good it is here.” She grew up as a “hockey girl,” rooting for the Detroit Red Wings long before her family became involved in racing. When she was first diagnosed with cancer, the Red Wings sent her a care package along with a get-well card.
Her father, Greg, raced Late Models on dirt tracks in Michigan before becoming a team owner in NASCAR’s national ranks. His PPC Racing operation primarily competed in what is now known as the Xfinity Series, securing the championship in 2000 with Jeff Green.
During her high school years, the Pollex family relocated to Florida, and she subsequently attended Florida State University, where she earned a degree in Sports Marketing. She eventually landed a marketing job that had NASCAR accounts, strengthening her connection to the sport.
Pollex met Martin Truex Jr. during his rise to prominence in the Xfinity Series, and together, they used their platform for philanthropic endeavors. The drivers’ foundation was established in 2007 and focused on assisting children and families affected by pediatric cancer. The couple ended their relationship in January after being together for 18 years.
Sherry Pollex received her own cancer diagnosis in 2014 after falling ill that summer. A CT scan revealed advanced stage 3 ovarian cancer (stage 4 being the most severe). On August 15, she underwent emergency surgery during which doctors removed her ovaries, fallopian tubes, spleen, appendix, and part of her stomach in a multi-hour procedure. Pollex commenced chemotherapy treatment four weeks later.
Doctors had given her a 30% chance of survival over the next five years. On January 11, 2016, she rang the bell to signify the end of her 17-month-long chemotherapy journey, inspiring others with her unwavering positivity throughout the ordeal.
“I wake up every day and feel so much gratitude and joy for this life I’m living, even though I have a chronic illness,” Pollex told Jeff Gluck in 2019. “And it’s very tough. People ask me all the time, ‘I don’t understand.’ How can you stay so positive and happy all the time when you have stage 3C ovarian cancer? And I wake up every day and think this life is amazing. If you look around, there’s so much positivity and beauty on this earth. People who want to make a difference and want to inspire each other, we are many if you seek us out.”
In September 2021, doctors determined that Pollex’s cancer had returned and had spread to one of her lungs. Subsequent scans revealed further progression, with her aggressive cancer strain proving particularly resistant to treatment.
Sherry Pollex leaves behind a powerful and enduring legacy as a champion of noble causes and a resilient ambassador in the fight against disease.
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