Sarasota deputy a finalist in NASCAR contest - FOX 13 News

Sarasota deputy a finalist in NASCAR contest

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A local hometown hero is vying for the opportunity of a lifetime. Sarasota Deputy Sheriff John Thomas is a finalist in contest that would name a NASCAR race after him, and treat him to a VIP experience—all in thanks for the service he's given back. 

If he wins, the upcoming Brickyard 400 will be renamed the "John Thomas 400," and he'll receive the VIP treatment there. It would be a dream come true for this diehard NASCAR fan. 

"To have it named after me would be second to my daughter and my family, one of the greatest things," he said.

Thomas's family says he is always putting other's needs in front of his own. 

"He has a huge heart. He would help anybody with anything they needed. That's what he strives to do," said Thomas's sister Jennifer Brady.

For nine years, Thomas served his country in the Army. From 2003 to 2004, he was on the front lines fighting in Iraq. And when he returned home, he continued to serve—this time with the Sarasota County Sheriffs Office. 

"I've always been taught to stand up and fight for people who need help," Thomas said.

It's that type of selfless service that's helped earn Deputy Thomas a spot as a finalist in the "Your Hero's Name Here" 400 contest that his wife entered him in. 

"This is the most fitting award he could get. Not only does he love NASCAR but he is a hometown hero," Jennifer Brady said.

"Hero" is a term his family and friends use, but not John himself.

"In no way shape or form do I consider myself a hero. I'm just a man doing a job," he said.

Thomas has many jobs—veteran, deputy, father, husband—and he does it all with a smile. 

"He's very loving, he's a very loving dad," said Thomas's wife Melissa. "I think he's a hero."

If you'd like to vote for Thomas, here is a link to the contest:

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