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Speedway Children's Charities Light Up the Holiday Season

Dec 03, 2014 10:19AM ● By Mike

Santa smiles after lighting the tree at the Speedway Children's Charities Tree Lighting and Grant Ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway on December 2, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

release from Texas Motor Speedway

The season of giving came early for five North Texas non-profit organizations Tuesday evening as Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter ushered in the holiday season by awarding more than $300,000 in funds, including the $150,000 Founder’s Grant to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, during its annual Christmas Tree Lighting and Grant Ceremony at Texas Motor Speedway.

Speedway Children’s Charities surpassed more than $9.7 million in grants distributed since its inception in 1997 with this year’s ceremony that was anchored by the special Founder’s Grant for organizations seeking to fund major capital improvement projects. The Founder’s Grant, established in 2009, will allow the Tarrant Area Food Bank to expand its mobile pantry program by utilizing the grant to purchase a 53-foot refrigerated tractor trailer for food distributions. The vehicle will be able to increase its distribution of nutritious, perishable food to underserved children through this expansion. The grant will allow the Tarrant Area Food Bank to serve more than 48,000 additional children.

 The organization currently services 300 partner agencies across 13 North Texas counties and provides food to 47,000 households and serves more than 300,000 meals each month.

“We are very grateful for this generous gift,” Tarrant Area Food Bank Executive Director Bo Soderbergh said. “It will allow Tarrant Area Food Bank to distribute fresh foods in communities where people are struggling with hunger and do not have ready access to fresh produce, dairy products and meats.”

Speedway Children’s Charities presented four other organizations with Partner Grants ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. The recipients of this year’s Partner Grants were Camp iHope of Plano ($10,125), Kiwanis Children’s Clinic of Denton ($13,380), Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth ($15,000) and PediPlace of Lewisville and Dallas ($20,000).

Camp iHope, which serves children and their siblings seven to 16 years of age with any type of cancer diagnosis at Medical City Children’s Hospital, provides these patients with the opportunity to enjoy the outdoor adventures of summertime camp at no cost to their families. The grant will go directly to funding more children for the program.

The Kiwanis Children’s Clinic of Denton provides free medical and dental for disadvantaged families and these funds will be used to provide prescriptions for children and expand the type of procedures they can offer to children.

The Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth will fund its “Meals from the Heart” program at Cook Children’s. The program feeds the children situated in the pediatric intensive care unit, along with their families, and more than 3,600 children will be served through this grant.

PediPlace, with locations in Lewisville and Dallas, will provide necessary prescription drugs and lab tests for low-income, uninsured children. The grant will allow the two branches to serve more than 800 children. 

With funds raised during the Silver Dollar at the Ranch benefit in May, Speedway Children’s Charities also awarded Medical City Children’s Hospital (Collin County), Children’s Health (Dallas), Cook Children’s of Fort Worth and Cook Children’s of Denton each with a check for $4,400 that will be used for various pediatric cancer initiatives.

The evening was marked by the official lighting of “The Tallest Living Christmas Tree In The Metroplex” presented by Ben E. Keith Foods. The 61-foot Douglas fir and its more than 10,000 LED lights were illuminated with the help of the North Pole’s famous resident, Santa Claus, who arrived in a refrigerated truck filled with snow and some of his helpers in the form of the “The Great American Sweethearts.”

KXAS-NBC 5 Sports Director Newy Scruggs was a special guest and provided the countdown to the lighting while his KXAS colleague, Chief Meteorologist David Finfrock, joined Santa, Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage and a child from a SCC partner organization, FitWorth, to flip the giant light switch for the ceremony.

The Christmas festivities also included carols sung by the Chisolm Trail Middle School Varsity Combined Choir and Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter President Scott Murray presenting the Dick Cerza Award and President’s Award during the program. Mark and Sheri Beatty of Red Hot & Blue earned the Dick Cerza Award for their continued support of the charity and auctioneer Mike Trent received the President’s Award as the organization’s top volunteer.

The evening of giving culminated with the distribution of 100 bikes and helmets to Fort Worth-area children representing FitWorth, Fire Station Community Center and Diamond Hill Elementary School. The early Christmas presents were compliments of SCC board members Chalmer and Karen McWilliams and George and Linda Campbell, who purchased and donated the bikes and helmets for the children.

Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has played a significant role in the lives of children in the four North Texas counties it serves – Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant. To illustrate the impact, one could fill the grandstands of Texas Motor Speedway 16 times with the number of children that have benefited from the charity’s support. The funds raised to help benefit Speedway Children’s Charities -Texas Chapter are generated through special events held throughout the year at Texas Motor Speedway.

To learn more about the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, please visit