The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities launched its largest fundraising event of the year Thursday with the presentation of $742,000 in grant awards to youth service organizations across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
The record-setting total was divided among 87 nonprofit programs in a Night of Smiles ceremony held in prelude to tonight’s opening of the 17th annual 2013 Speedway in Lights display at Bristol Motor Speedway.
SCC Executive Director Claudia Byrd cited the community’s support for the yearlong roster of SCC fundraising events as the driving force behind the chapter’s most generous round of grant awards to date.
“I can’t say enough about the truly amazing support we receive from the people of this region,” Byrd said. “The ability to raise and distribute $742,000 among these agencies is a testament to their compassionate and generous nature.”
The largest of the grants, a $50,000 grant established in honor of Byrd’s late husband and former BMS general manager Jeff Byrd, was awarded to the Bristol Family YMCA. The funds were awarded for construction of the future Jeff Byrd Play Park, an updated interactive play facility that will replace the YMCA’s existing kids’ gym.
Byrd said her family was honored the YMCA chose to remember her late husband with the project.
“Jeff would have never wanted the focus to be on him,” she said, “but I know he would be thrilled to support any endeavor that positively impacted the lives of thousands of kids by encouraging them to be healthy and active.”
Other grant recipients in the 18 Tennessee and Virginia counties served by the chapter include Carter County’s Assistance and Resource Ministries, the Carter County Foster Care Association, Good Samaritan Ministries of Johnson City, the Literacy Council of Kingsport, Young Life of Bristol, the Wonder Kids Therapeutic Equestrian Center of Bristol, Va., the Feeding America food bank of Southwest Virginia in Abingdon, Va., and Mountain Kids Inc., of Tazewell, Va.
Sponsored by Ford and powered by TVA, this year’s Speedway in Lights features more than 200 individual light exhibits strung along a four-mile road course through the facility’s famous half-mile oval and Thunder Valley Dragway.
New to the show this year is the “Battle at Bristol Fan Zone and Light Display.” Presented in preview of the Virginia Tech and University of Tennessee football game to be held on the track infield in 2016, the display features a lighted football field set atop the track’s Goodyear suites tower and interactive VT and UT end zones on the front stretch pit road.
Also returning for another holiday run at the race track are the light show’s companion attractions, the Johnson Controls Ice Rink and HVAC Chill Hill tub slide.
The attractions will be open nightly from 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 4. Tickets are $12 per vehicle Sunday through Thursday and $15 on Fridays and Saturdays. Activity van tickets are $20 and bus tickets are $85. Tube slide tickets and ice rink admission, including skate rental, are $7 each.
For more information about the attractions, call 855-580-5525.