Speedway Children's Charities will donate in excess of $734,000 to organizations in the Charlotte region benefiting thousands of children in nine area counties during tonight's annual Lowe's Motor Speedway tree lighting ceremony.

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, will join Scott Smith, president of the Charlotte chapter of Speedway Children's Charities, and Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Sadler, executive director of Speedway Children's Charities, in awarding the grants to 73 local organizations.

"Children are a special gift and it's great to be able to help so many each year," said Marcus Smith. "Everyone at Speedway Children's Charities works hard to make a difference in the lives of children, and I applaud them for making this a record-setting year. It's incredible that we're able to assist more area children than ever before."

Speedway Children's Charities raised the record amount through various fundraising activities along with individual and corporate donations throughout the year. This year's grant total is almost 5 percent more than last year's contribution and 45 percent more than was donated in 2005.

A number of area agencies will directly benefit from the funds, including A Better World (helps provide finances to operate after-school programs), Cabarrus County Boys & Girls Club, Inc. (provides transportation for children to attend summer and after school camps) and Thompson Child & Family Focus (provides comprehensive early childhood education where typically developing and special needs children learn together).

"Our volunteers, sponsors and donors are the ones who make all of this possible," said Scott Smith. "They help bring smiles to the faces of so many children in our community, and on behalf of those that we assist, I would like to thank each and every one of them."

In addition to the grant distribution, the holiday ceremony will include the lighting of Lowe's Motor Speedway's one-of-a-kind 50-foot Christmas tree and visits by Santa Claus and Lug Nut, the world's fastest mascot.

About Speedway Children's Charities
Making a difference in a child's life is the focus of Speedway Children's Charities (www.speedwaycharities.org) and we strive to do this in collaboration with the non-profit organizations we support nationwide.
Individually, SCC's local chapters identify the needs of children in their communities and award grants to organizations that address them. In 2007, the chapters combined to award more than $3.3 million to over 510 organizations.