Speedway Children’s Charities at Texas Motor Speedway continued the holiday spirit of giving with the help of Santa Claus Tuesday, December 7, 2010 during its annual Christmas tree lighting at Texas Motor Speedway in which more than $800,000 in grants was awarded to 24 Dallas/Fort Worth organizations.

The festivities began with the traditional lighting of “The Biggest Living Christmas Tree In The Metroplex,” a 57-foot tall Douglas fir tree presented by Ben E. Keith. Speedway Children’s Charities at Texas Motor Speedway sponsors also will begin a new holiday tradition by presenting less fortunate families and children with Christmas trees and bicycles.  Texas Motor Speedway provided 100 Christmas trees and Chalmer McWilliams and Texas Air Systems distribute 100 children’s bicycles to selected families following the tree lighting and grant presentations.  

The highlight of the evening included the announcement of the three Founder’s Grant recipients. The grants, designed to target the needs of organizations looking to make major capital projects, range from $146,000 and $150,000, and are named after three distinguished leaders of Speedway Children’s Charities – Bruton Smith, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. CEO/Chairman and Founder of Speedway Children’s Charities; Maj. General Thomas Sadler, SCC National Executive Director; and Betty Rutherford, SCC-Texas Founding President.

The 2010 Founder’s Grant recipients are:

  • Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Collin County will receive the Bruton Smith Speedway Children’s Charities Founder’s Grant for $150,000.
  • Texas Scottish Rite Hospital of Dallas will receive the Maj. General Thomas Sadler Speedway Children’s Charities Founder’s Grant for $149,000.
  • Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth will receive the Betty Rutherford Speedway Children’s Charities Founder’s Grant for $146,000.

CASA of Collin County helps provide a voice for abused and neglected children. The organization is currently appointed for 100 percent of Collin County’s abused and neglected children, with its mission to ensure that each child is placed into a safe and loving permanent home. With the organization relying on volunteers, its Founder’s Grant will help the organization hire additional staff to help train and recruit new volunteers. 

“We have a great need for volunteers to help us ensure that no child has to go without a casa,” CASA of Collin County Executive Director Susan Etheridge said. “This grant provides a very significant impact by helping to make sure abused and neglected children have a safe childhood.”

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital’s Founder’s Grant will allow it to provide cutting-edge technology for scoliosis patients. The hospital’s focus is to treat Texas children with orthopedic conditions. The grant will now afford the hospital the ability to purchase Texas’ first CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design-Computer Aided Manufacture) system, which will assist in the design of braces for scoliosis patients.

“This grant will allow our orthotists to make braces for our scoliosis patient population that will result in a more precise fit,” Texas Scottish Rite Hospital of Dallas Vice President of Development Stephanie Brigger said. “Improving the comfort and fit of the braces will promote more wear time, which in their case is one of the most significant contributors to their success.”

Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth serves more than 111,000 children and adults in the Fort Worth area. Its mission is to provide services to those in need; to advocate compassion and justice in the structures of society; and to call all people of good will to do the same. Its Founder’s Grant will allow it to better serve its clients by purchasing a fleet of buses for improved transportation.

“We are so grateful to receive this wonderful grant, and to receive this grant in Betty Rutherford’s name is exciting,” Catholic Charities Diocese of Fort Worth President/CEO Heather Reynolds said. “This grant allows us to elevate what we do for our children and families, and to help them move forward so that they no longer on our list.”

Coupled with the three Founder’s Grants, SCC awarded 21 Partner Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000.

The recipients of this year’s Partner Grants are ACH Child and Family Services; Alliance for Children; Arlington Life Shelter; Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth; Buckner Children & Family Services, Inc.; Camp Summit, Inc.; Cancer Care Services; Christian Community Action; Community Dental Care; Denton Kiwanis Children’s Clinic; Easter Seals North Texas; Gill Children’s Services; Junior Achievement of Chisholm Trail, Inc.; Masonic Children & Family Services of Texas; Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas; North East Emergency Distribution; PediPlace, Inc.; Prevent Blindness Texas – Fort Worth Region; Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth; Tarrant Area Food Bank; The Women’s Center of Tarrant County.

Since Speedway Children’s Charities inception in 1997, the Texas Chapter has helped more than 1.6 million children in Dallas, Denton, Tarrant and Collin counties. The chapter raises the majority of its funds during the three major race weekends annually hosted by Texas Motor Speedway. This year’s fundraising helped move the chapter’s total over $7.5 million in grants distributed to North Texas non-profit organizations since 1997.