Tony Kanaan’s passion for cycling is well known in Verizon IndyCar Series circles. His passion for helping others runs just as deep.
Kanaan donated proceeds from sales of a specially designed bike seat commemorating his 300th career Indy car start in 2015 to the Police Unity Tour, an annual 250-mile bike ride to Washington, D.C., to raise funds for and honor fallen law enforcement officers.
The donation totaled $5,000. Kanaan, driver of the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, was recognized for his generosity prior to the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13 by Steve Toll, founder and CEO of ISM, the bike seat manufacturer and a Kanaan sponsor.
Toll, a former police officer in Marquette, Mich., and Tampa, presented Kanaan with a framed Police Unity Tour jersey and commemorative seat. PUT representatives Andrew Raphael (left in photo above) and Hugh Miller (right in photo above) joined in the ceremony.
“I made this saddle for Tony for his 300th Indy car start,” Toll explained. “I asked what he wanted to do with the money he was going to get (from sales) and he said, ‘Donate it to your Unity Tour guys.’
“I just thought that was pretty cool, kind of typical Tony. He’s that kind of guy. He’s just a special person.”
Kanaan approached ISM about bike seats as he was preparing to compete in the famous Ironman World Championship in 2011. It led to the partnership that remains in place today.
“I’ve had a great a relationship with ISM over the years and they were kind enough to make a bike seat to commemorate my 300th start last season,” Kanaan said. “I was so honored that they did that and I wanted to continue to pay it forward by donating all of the proceeds from the seat sales to the Police Unity Tour. That organization is just amazing and what they do for fallen officers and their family is very inspiring and close to both mine and Steve’s hearts.”
The Police Unity Tour ride will conduct its 20th race in May. Active and retired police officers and family survivors of those who gave their lives participate in the three-day, 250-mile trek from New Jersey to Washington, D.C. The ride concludes with an emotional stop at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial that lists the names of those killed in the line of duty.
While Kanaan is currently busy each May preparing for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Toll would eventually like to see him join the bike tour.
“As competitive as he is and as much as he likes to ride, I wonder if he’d be interested in doing the ride one year,” Toll said. “He would most definitely be welcome.”