FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 29, 2011) – Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has continued to help improve the quality of life for children in North Texas for 15 years and Tuesday evening’s annual Christmas tree lighting and grant ceremony marked a special milestone as the organization surpassed the $8 million mark in grants distributed since its inception in 1997.

Speedway Children’s Charities celebrated the milestone by once again spreading holiday cheer to area organizations with 23 grants being distributed to Dallas/Fort Worth organizations, including a $125,000 Founder’s Grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. The festivities were kicked off with the traditional lighting of “The Biggest Living Christmas Tree In The Metroplex,” a 63-foot tall Douglas fir tree presented by Ben E. Keith Foods.

Santa Claus, who helped light the Christmas tree, made a special entrance with the help of some extra horsepower as he and several children arrived in a stock car limo. Members of the Harpool Middle School Choir from Denton put everyone in the Christmas spirit as they performed favorite holiday carols.

Among the 23 grants distributed, Speedway Children’s Charities awarded the Betty Rutherford Founder’s Grant to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. The Founder’s Grant, first instituted in 2009, continues the tradition of awarding a special Founder’s Grant to assist organizations in funding a capital improvement project. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth becomes the eighth different organization to receive a Founder’s Grant.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth has served the area since 1926 and currently serves more than 12,000 youth and their families through Club branches, programs and outreach services. Currently without a playground to serve the needs of its children, the organization will utilize its grant to fund a new, expansive playground for its Butler Branch that serves a Fort Worth Housing Authority community.

"Speedway Children's Charities has been a crucial partner in support of youth services in our community for 15 years,” Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth President Daphne Barlow Stigliano said. “It is an honor to be recognized by the organization and to receive their generous support to build a playground for our Butler Branch. Located in a Fort Worth Housing Authority community, Butler Branch serves one of our highest risk youth populations. The playground and associated improvements to the outdoor area will ensure a secure, safe area for the kids to develop physically, socially and emotionally."

Speedway Children’s Charities season of giving did not end with the 23 grants as 100 new bicycles and helmets provided by Bicycles, Inc., of Keller, were distributed to underprivileged children.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, an avid cyclist who has participated in such events as Tour de Fort Worth among others, helped the children break in their bicycles. Price, riding her personal bicycle, and Santa Claus on his special Christmas rickshaw, led a special procession of more than 30 children through a portion of the speedway’s newest holiday lights display, the Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway.

In addition to the Founder’s Grant, Speedway Children’s Charities also awarded 22 Partner Grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The recipients of this year’s Partner Grants are:

  • Ability Connection of Texas
  • ACH Child and Family Services
  • Baylor Health Care System Foundation
  • Boys & Girls Club of Collin County
  • Camp Summit, Inc.
  • Cancer Care Services
  • CASA of Collin County
  • CASA of Denton County
  • Children’s Medical Center of Dallas
  • Dental Health Arlington
  • Denton Kiwanis Center
  • Easter Seals North Texas
  • Heroes for Children
  • Interfaith Ministries of Denton, Inc.
  • National Kidney Foundation Serving Texas
  • Prevent Blindness Texas (Northwest & Northeast regions)
  • Rainbow Days, Inc.
  • Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth
  • SpiritHorse Therapeutic Center
  • Tarrant Area Food Bank
  • The Warren Center
  • Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer

Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas Chapter has touched the lives of more than two million children in need since the organization was formed in 1997. To illustrate the impact, you could fill the grandstands at Texas Motor Speedway 14 times with the number of children that have benefited from the support of Speedway Children’s Charities-Texas. The funds distributed by Speedway Children’s Charities are raised through special events held throughout the year. The majority of the Speedway Children’s Charities events are centered on the three major race weeks at Texas Motor Speedway.