Eckrich Hosts Surprise of a Lifetime for Military Family

LISLE, Ill., Oct. 18, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — There is nothing more special than an unexpected gift at an unexpected time. That’s why Eckrich, the makers of naturally hardwood smoked sausage and savory deli meats, created an unforgettable moment for the Dizmang-Espy military family from Kansas City, Kan., when “The King” Richard Petty surprised them with a brand new 2016 Ford Fusion.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/a9a1bfd7-cd8c-4733-978f-744fe223c8a5

The Dizmang-Espy family was invited by Eckrich to Price Chopper on Friday morning to pick up what they thought were tickets to Sunday’s race at the Kansas Speedway as a thank-you for serving our country. 

When the family arrived, they were greeted by the No. 43 Eckrich race car and an invitation to be honorary crew members of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports race team at the track on Sunday. 

Already a memorable moment, they were shocked when Richard Petty, a NASCAR Hall of Famer and great American icon, drove up in a new car.  Petty greeted the family and presented them with the keys to a 2016 Ford Fusion.  The family was overcome to find out that the car Petty pulled up in was theirs to keep as an once-in-a-lifetime gift from Eckrich in a gesture of thanks for their sacrifice.

Petty then presented them with a gift of free groceries for one year at Price Chopper, all on behalf of Eckrich.

It was an emotional experience for Retired Army Sergeant Mike Dizmang-Espy, his wife, Diana, a member of the National Guard, and their four children.   Mike Dizmang-Espy served in the Army for 11 years and deployed to Iraq three times during his service.  Diana recently commissioned with the National Guard and also participates in Operation Homefront’s Hearts of Valor® program as her husband’s caregiver.

“I really don’t know what to say, but to thank everyone for these wonderful gifts,” said Mike after the surprise.  “You can tell that Eckrich really put a lot of effort to make today special, and I can’t thank everyone enough. We do sacrifice a lot in service and it’s just nice to know that people out there want to give back.”

“Yes, we are so grateful to Eckrich, Richard Petty and Price Chopper,” added Diana.  “This is so wonderful.  I just can’t believe that Richard Petty gave us a new car and Eckrich and Price Chopper gave us groceries for a year.  It’s hard to put the emotion into words.”

The new car and gift of groceries are part of the commitment by Eckrich to honor, thank and support military families through its partnership with Operation Homefront, a national non-profit whose mission is to build strong, stable and secure military families.  Petty has partnered with Eckrich to honor and support military families over the past several years.

“Our military families are the ones who allow us to do what we love,” said Petty. “They don’t ask to be recognized so it’s always nice to give back and surprise them with something so special such as a new car.  It’s great to see Eckrich doing this and I’m a big supporter of what they do for all our military families.”

Eckrich, in its fourth year of supporting Operation Homefront, recently surpassed $1 million in monetary donations since the start of the program in 2012.

“Eckrich is proud to partner with Richard Petty and Price Chopper to honor the Dizmang-Espy family,” said Charles Gitkin, Senior Vice President, Marketing, Smithfield Foods. “We appreciate the sacrifices that both Mike and Diana have made, and Eckrich is honored to have the opportunity to say ‘thank you.’  On behalf of Eckrich, we are pleased to present a new car and one year of free groceries to the Dizmang-Espy family.”

For more information about Eckrich, please visit www.Eckrich.com. Eckrich is a brand of Smithfield Foods.  

About Eckrich
Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, Eckrich has a rich heritage starting from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Ind. Through it all, Eckrich meats have been recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care and pride. For more information, visit www.eckrich.com.

About Smithfield Foods
Smithfield Foods is a $15 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook’s®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, Nathan’s Famous®, Kretschmar®, Margherita®, Curly’s®, Carando® and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com.

About Operation Homefront
A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 2,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has provided assistance to thousands of military families since its inception in 2002. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity watchdog groups, nationally, 92 percent of Operation Homefront’s expenditures go directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.

About Richard Petty Motorsports
A performance and marketing driven company, Richard Petty Motorsports, co-owned by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty and successful business entrepreneur Andrew Murstein, is one of the most recognized brands in all of motorsports. With a history of over 200 wins and business partnerships with national and global leaders, today the race operation fields two teams in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola pilots the famous No. 43 Ford Fusion with primary partners Smithfield Foods, U.S. Air Force, STP and Fresh From Florida, and Sam Hornish, Jr. drives the No. 9 machine with primary partner Twisted Tea. In addition, Dakoda Armstrong wheels the No. 43 WinField Ford Mustang full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The team is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.

The photo is also available via AP PhotoExpress.

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