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Military Veteran Gets Once in a Lifetime Opportunity to Be "King For a Day"

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Eckrich and Weis Markets Give Back to Injured Vet and Family; Will Walk in Richard Petty's Shoes

LISLE, Ill. and TANNERSVILLE, Pa., June 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Staff Sergeant Randy Gray and his family will be treated like royalty this weekend at the Pocono Raceway thanks to Eckrich, Weis Markets and Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM). Gray, a member of the National Guard will be a guest of Eckrich and "The King" Richard Petty.

SSG Randy Gray and his wife Theresa were honored by Eckrich, Weis Markets and Richard Petty Motorsports in Tannersville, Pa.

Eckrich, through its partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and Operation Homefront, surprised Gray, his wife and two sons inside Weis Markets Tannersville store.  While shopping for Eckrich smoked sausage, the family was greeted by members of the No. 43 team who surprised them with free groceries for one year at any Weis Markets location. The team then invited Staff Sergeant Gray and his family outside where the No. 43 Eckrich Ford drove up to the store front.  A member of the RPM team invited the Gray family to not only join them at the track this weekend, but informed them they would be guests of "The King" Richard Petty

Staff Sergeant Gray, who lives in Hunlock Creek, PA, recently returned from a nine month deployment in Kuwait and is currently in the Wounded Transition Unit after sustaining an injury.  Gray was enlisted as active duty in the Air Force from 1991 to 1993 before joining the National Guard and deploying to Kuwait. 

To ensure that that the Gray family will have an authentic Richard Petty experience, they received an RPM shirt, similar those worn by Richard Petty, and additional items that make up the signature Richard Petty look including, sunglasses, a belt buckle and a Richard Petty Charlie One Horse Cowboy Hat.  The Gray family will join Petty and the team atop of the famed No. 43 race transporter to watch practice and qualifying sessions of driver Aric Almirola before viewing the race from the pit box during Sunday's event.

The surprise was part of the Eckrich "Operation Inspiration" campaign which supports and honors military families.  The free groceries for a year at Weis Markets and the opportunity to join Richard Petty this weekend is something that the Gray's are grateful for.

"I was really taken back by everything," said Gray after the event.  "It's awesome to have Eckrich, Weiss and Richard Petty Motorsports do something like this for us. It's really my wife who has to sacrifice when I'm serving.  It's humbling to see people recognize what they go through and it means a lot to me.  We're really excited for the race weekend."

Now in its third year of partnership with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit which provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors, Eckrich has already donated more than half a million dollars to the charity. This year, Eckrich is again planning to donate up to $250,000 through the contribution of five cents from each purchase of specially marked products from May 1 through July 4.

"We are proud to honor our military families," said Charles Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group.  "Our partnerships with Richard Petty Motorsports, Operation Homefront and Weis Markets allowed us to give back in a very special and unique way today.  It's something that we're very proud to do for the Gray family after all of their sacrifices for us."

The family will attend the Pocono 400 this Sunday.  The event will be televised nationally live by TNT beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

About Smithfield Foods 
Smithfield Foods is a $13 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®, Gwaltney®, John Morrell®, Kretschmar®, Curly's®, Carando®, Margherita®, 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 and www.smithfieldcommitments.com.

About John Morrell Food Group 
With over a century and a half of experience, John Morrell Food Group brands have become respected and well known for providing premium-quality meat products to families across the United States. With products ranging from lunchmeat and franks to smoked sausage, bacon and pepperoni, the John Morrell Food Group is an important part of consumers' mealtimes. The John Morrell Food Group offers several national and regional brands including Armour®, Eckrich®, John Morrell®, Curly's®, Patrick Cudahy®, Carando®, Healthy Ones®, Margherita® Kretschmar® and LunchMakers®.

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 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, 93 percent of total donations to Operation Homefront 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 entrepreneurs Andrew Murstein and Douglas Bergeron, 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, GoBowling.com and Fresh From Florida and Marcos Ambrose drives the No. 9 Ford Fusion with primary partners STANLEY, DEWALT, Mac Tools and Twisted Tea. In addition, Dakoda Armstrong will compete in the No. 43 Ford Mustang with primary partners WinField and Fresh From Florida for his first full-time season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The team is headquartered in Concord, N.C.

About Weis Markets 
Founded in 1912, Weis Markets, Inc. is a Mid Atlantic food retailer operating 166 stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia. For more information, please visit: WeisMarkets.com or Facebook.com/WeisMarkets.

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