It was 'Game Off' for 32 middle schools in Charlotte, N.C. when budget cuts forced the administration to slash athletics programs. But when the news reached a local automotive sales exec, heartstrings were tugged and wallets were opened.

Rick Hendrick, chairman of Charlotte-based Hendrick Automotive Group and championship owner of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s NASCAR teams, is the district's knight in shining chrome. is now the official sponsor of Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools athletics, helping to cover coach, referee and transportation costs.

While Hendrick's signs will be prominently displayed around playing fields, there's a more personal reason for his philanthropy: He and his own children played sports growing up in the area.

So a little nostalgia has gone a long way to keep it 'Game on' for Charlotte kids.

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