Speedway Children's Charities donated in excess of $725,000 to organizations in the Charlotte, N.C., region benefiting area children during the grand opening of Carolina Christmas, Nov. 22 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In a special presentation Monday night, the dollar amount donated was unveiled in a LED, or light emitting diode, display as more than 75 children from area charities were on hand for the program.

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway and president of Speedway Children's Charities Charlotte Chapter, joined Santa Claus in awarding grants to 75 local organizations Monday evening. Throughout the course of the year Speedway Children's Charities has donated to 92 organizations, directly impacting more than 45,000 children.

"We are honored to be able to assist in helping so many children this year," said Smith. "It is such a blessing to give back to the community and see all of the lives that have been impacted through these donations this year."

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, Charlotte Motor Speedway celebrated the opening night of Carolina Christmas, a spectacular new 2.5-mile drive-through Christmas light park and village located on the track and infield of the legendary superspeedway. The celebration included fireworks and the simultaneous lighting of the entire Carolina Christmas display, which features more than a million lights and 500 different light displays.