Speedway Children's Charities will donate in excess of $854,000 to organizations in the Charlotte region benefiting area children during tonight's annual Lowe's Motor Speedway tree lighting ceremony.

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway, will join Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Sadler, executive director of Speedway Children's Charities, in awarding the grants to 93 local organizations.

"Children are a gift and it's a blessing that we're able to assist so many each year," said Smith. "Everyone at Speedway Children's Charities strives to make a difference in the lives of as many children as possible, and this year we're helping kids though programs at more than 90 organizations in the Lowe's Motor Speedway community. It's just amazing to see how many children we're able to assist."

Speedway Children's Charities raised the money through various fundraising activities along with individual and corporate donations throughout the year.

A number of area agencies will directly benefit from the funds, including A Better World (helps provide finances to operate after-school programs), Birthday Blessings (Shelter Party Program hosts birthday parties for homeless children and their families), Northeast Foundation, Inc. (helps fund Camp Open Airways and Camp Sweet Freedom for asthmatic and diabetic children to attend a summer day camp under medical supervision to control their asthma and diabetes while participating in typical camp
activities) and Thompson Child & Family Focus (provides comprehensive early childhood education where typically developing and special needs children learn together).

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.

Fans will also have the opportunity to drive their personal vehicles around Lowe's Motor Speedway after the tree lighting ceremony. Those who donate $25 to Speedway Children's Charities will be able to take three laps around the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

2009 Charlotte Chapter Grant Recipients:
A Better World
A Child's Place of Charlotte, Inc.
A Place for Hope, Inc.
Abilities Unlimited of the Carolinas, Inc.
Adolescent and Family Enrichment Council
Alexander Youth Network Allegro Foundation
American Red Cross - Cabarrus County
Arts for Life
Assistance League of Charlotte
Autism Services of Mecklenburg County, Inc.
Autism Speaks
Barium Springs Home for Children
Bethlehem Center of Charlotte, Inc.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte
Birthday Blessings
Bostonian Elementary School PTA
Cabarrus County Partnership of Children
Camp CARE, Inc.
Carolina Youth Commission
Charity League, Inc.
Charlotte Emergency Housing
Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center
Children's Home Society of North Carolina, Inc.
Communities in Schools of Cabarrus County
Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Inc.
Communities of Rowan County, Inc.
Crisis Assistance Ministry
Crisis Pregnancy Center of Gaston County
Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Donors Choose, Inc.
Dore Academy
Easter Seals UCP North Carolina
Family Services Inc.
Florence Crittenton Services Inc.
GHA, Inc.
Girls on the Run International
Harvest Kitchen Outreach, Inc.
Hispanic Learning Center of Cabarrus County
Holy Angels, Inc.
Hometown Heroes, Inc.
Jimmie Johnson Foundation
Jonie and Friends
Junior League of Charlotte, Inc.
Kannapolis Boys & Girls Club
KinderMourn, Inc.
Kurt Busch Foundation
Legacy of the Vine Ministries, Inc.
Levine Children's Hospital
Lukemia & Lymphoma Society
March Forth with Hope Foundation, Inc.
Misty Meadows Mitey Riders, Inc.
Muscular Dystrophy Association, Inc.
NB Mills Elementary School
NorthEast Foundation, Inc.
Our Kids
Partners in Out-of-School Time
Philips Academy of North Carolina, Inc.
Piedmont Mediation Center, Inc.
Piedmont Residential Development Center, Inc.
Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte
Prevent Child Abuse N.C.
Prosperity Community Connection, Inc.
Room at the Inn, Inc.
Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation
Saving Grace, Inc.
Seigle Avenue Partners, Inc.
Seigle Avenue Preschool Cooperative, Inc.
Shelter Health Services, Inc.
Silent Images, Inc.
Special Olympics North Carolina
Special Olympics North Carolina - Cabarrus
Stanley County Family YMCA
The Academic Learning Center, Inc.
The Arc of Cabarrus County, Inc.
The Arc of Mecklenburg County, Inc.
The Junior Charity League of Concord
The Parker Austin Foundation, Inc.
The Salvation Army of Cabarrus County
The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte
Third Creek Elementary School
Thompson Child & Family Focus
Tony Stewart Foundation
Troutman Elementary School
United Family Services, Inc.
University City Fellowship
With Friends, Inc.
YMCA of Greater Charlotte
York County Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse
Youth Homes, Inc. (YHI)