Publicity photo
Mark Ellis

It's going to be a great weekend for Mark Ellis.

Ellis, a Utah resident, a construction project manager for Smith’s Food & Drug and a major in the United State Air Force, will be one of 14 Kroger associates honored as members of the 2012 Kroger/Daytona 500 race team in connection with the company’s "Honoring Our Heroes" program. Ellis and the other heroes will be on the track at the Daytona 500 in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 26, to present a $1.5 million check to representatives of the USO during the pre-race ceremonies.

The USO is an organization providing morale-boosting programs and services to enhance the quality of life for troops and their families around the world.

Ellis, whose face will also be featured on in-store advertising displays in Smith’s, was motivated to support the project because of his admiration for the work of the USO.

“I have seen firsthand the incredible support the USO provides to deployed service members worldwide and their families, and it truly makes a difference,” he said before boarding his flight to the event. "This is a great honor."

Smith’s also donated two tickets to the Daytona weekend events to Hill Air Force Base to award to a lucky active HAFB airman and guest to attend.

Ellis was appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1995. Following graduation, he served in the military intelligence career field with numerous assignments and operations around the world. Ellis met his wife, Kari, while at the Air Force Academy, and she is also an officer in the Air Force Reserves.

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