Texas Motor Speedway opened the holiday season in grand fashion Monday evening with nearly $400,000 being distributed to North Texas children’s organizations during the Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter Grant Ceremony and Tree Lighting held on The Speedway Club Circle.
The annual outdoor public event also was highlighted by the lighting of one of the state’s largest living Christmas trees, a holiday-themed fireworks show and distribution of bicycles to 100 less fortunate children.
The biggest gift under the 59-foot Douglas fir tree was a Founder’s Grant for $125,000 that was presented to the YMCA Collin County Adventure Camp. The grant will be used to build a handicap-accessible Alpine Tower with integrated awnings that will provide a high-adventure activity for children of all abilities.
“The YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and Collin County Adventure Camp are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Texas Motor Speedway’s Speedway Children’s Charities in building the Alpine Tower,” YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas President and CEO Curt Hazelbaker said. “The unique design of the tower will provide a challenging activity for all of our guests. The shade element within the tower design will make it possible for guests with physical limitations to grow personally by experiencing new and positive challenges while being protected from the effects of the sun. 
“The Alpine Tower promotes the values of the YMCA and delivers our mission ‘to put Christian values into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.’ This new activity would not have been possible without the generous support of Texas Motor Speedway’s Speedway Children’s Charities.”
The YMCA Collin County Adventure Camp provides the opportunity for children and young adults to learn, grow and develop their teamwork and leadership skills all while experiencing the beauty of the outdoors. Activities include fishing, canoeing, zip lining, archery, shooting range, hiking and rock climbing. Since opening in 2006, the camp has expanded its programs and currently offers summer camp for children, outdoor education for schools and group retreats for organizations of all sizes.
The YMCA Collin County Adventure Camp was among 15 organizations within the Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties that received a grant from Speedway Children’s Charities, including seven in excess of $25,000.
In addition to YMCA Collin County Adventure Camp’s Founder’s Grant, those grants of $25,000 or more were awarded to:
  • A Wish With Wings ($55,000) – The Silver Dollar at the Ranch Pediatric Grant will be used to grant wishes to children with cancer such as sending them on a trip to Disney World.
  • Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center ($44,459) – The Silver Dollar at the Ranch Pediatric Grant will be used to further their research for alternative treatments for pediatric cancer.
  • Manegait Therapeutic Horsemanship ($30,000) – The Silver Dollar at the Ranch Pediatric Grant will be used to fund specialized therapy sessions for children being treated for cancer.
  • Denton Kiwanis Children’s Clinic ($25,000) – The Partner Grant will provide medical and dental treatment as well as prescriptions for children not covered by health plans.
  • Food for the Soul ($25,000) – The Partner Grant will provide backpacks to children in need that will be filled with snacks and weekend meals for the entire academic year.
  • Texas Scottish Rite Hospital ($25,000) – The Partner Grant will underwrite the cost of bracing shoes used in the treatment of infants and young children.
The other organizations receiving grants were Camp iHope ($11,000), NASCAR Ride of a Lifetime ($10,675), Health Services of North Texas ($10,000), Journey to Dream ($8,900), Texas Motor Speedway’s Speeding To Read ($7,792), Special Olympics Texas ($7,000), Cowtown C.A.L.F. ($5,384) and the Petty Family Foundation ($4,599).
The event also was highlighted by PrimeLending generously underwriting 100 bicycles and helmets that were given to less fortunate children from Hispano Exito and A Wish With Wings, and the SCC chapter recognizing its top volunteers of the year. Bryan and AshleyWilliams received the President’s Award and PrimeLending earned the Dick Cerza Award.
The tree lighting has been a Texas Motor Speedway tradition since the facility opened in 1997. This year’s tree is decorated with 10,000 LED lights, oversized ornaments and topped with a 4’x4′ gold star featuring the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. corporate globe. The event included a special visit from Santa Claus, the Chisolm Trail Middle School Choir under the direction of Stephanie Thurston singing holiday songs and a special fireworks show immediately following the lighting of the tree.
Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has made a lasting impact on children in North Texas since its inception in 1997 by awarding more than $10.6 million in grants to area children’s organizations. The funds are raised through special events held throughout the year, with the majority of them centered on the three major race weeks at Texas Motor Speedway.
For more information on Speedway Children’s Charities including the upcoming Speedway Candy Cane Classic 5k on Saturday, Dec. 16, please visit www.speedwaycharities.org/texas.
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