One of the state's largest living Christmas trees provided the perfect centerpiece for Tuesday evening's Speedway Children's Charities-Texas Chapter Grant and Tree Lighting Ceremony held on The Speedway Club Circle. The annual outdoor public holiday event distributed just over $258,000 to nine children's organizations across North Texas.  

In addition to the grant ceremony, the evening included the ceremonial illumination of more than 10,000 LED lights on the 74-foot, 7,000-pound Norway spruce and one of the few holiday-themed fireworks shows in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. 

SCC Texas also presented 75 children with a bicycle and helmet, while also donating 25 car seats that will be given to underserved families to ensure their newborn babies arrive home safely.

The largest present beneath the tree was a Founder's Grant for $139,847.13 that was presented to the Sci-Tech Discovery Center. The grant will be used to bring to life its Mobile Maker Space, a workshop on wheels. The Mobile Maker Space will consist of a van and 16-foot trailer outfitted with the essential tools and kits to operate on-site programs, which will bring opportunities to schools and children who otherwise would be unable to visit the Sci-Tech Discovery Center.

"Sci-Tech Discovery Center is on the cutting edge of maker education programs not only in North Texas but in the United States," explains Sci-Tech Discovery Center Executive Director Peter Claffey. "Receiving the generous Founder's Grant from Speedway Children's Charities enables us to eliminate the transportation barrier that exists between underserved markets and science education.  By bringing STEM and MAKER education to underserved markets, the Mobile Maker Space will allow Sci-Tech to bring science to everyone."

Serving more than 10,000 children in the Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties, the Sci-Tech Discovery Center was created to engage and inspire learners of all ages and backgrounds to embrace discovery and innovation through the active exploration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The Sci-Tech Discovery Center was among nine organizations within the Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties that received a grant from Speedway Children's Charities, including four in excess of $15,000.

In addition to Sci-Tech Discovery Center Founder's Grant, those grants of $15,000 or more were awarded to:

  • Callier Center For Communication Disorders ($25,000) - Serving 51 children in Dallas County, these funds will underwrite the cost of their Cochlear Implant Summer Camps, a vital component of their pediatric treatment services.
  • Camp Summit, Inc. ($25,000) - Serving 550-plus children in Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties, this grant will support the campership and financial assistance project at Camp Summit.
  • Texas Motor Speedway Speeding To Read Program ($21,144.50) - This donation was used to assist participating schools with T-shirts to more than 12,000 students in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
  • Health Services Of North Texas, Inc. ($15,210) - Serving 100 children in Denton County, this grant will provide uninsured pediatric patients living in poverty with essential medical visits at no cost to their families.

The other organizations receiving grants were NASCAR Ride of a Lifetime ($13,050), Breakthrough at Fort Worth Country Day ($10,000), ManeGait Therapeutic Horsemanship ($9,000) and 50/50 Raffle Fundraiser for Nonprofits ($1,683.75).

Ten of the 75 bicycles were donated by Academy Sports & Outdoors, which also provided the remaining 65 at a discounted rate. The bicycles and helmets were donated to Lewisville New Hope Learning Center, Metrocrest Services, and Santa Cop. The 25 car seats were donated to the JPS Foundation.

The SCC-Texas Chapter also recognized its top volunteers of the year. Bob Nierman received the President's Award and Cherie Rodenburgh earned the Dick Cerza Award.

The tree lighting has been a Texas Motor Speedway tradition since the facility opened in 1997. In addition to the 10,000 LED lights, the tree features oversized ornaments and is topped with a 4'x4' gold star featuring the Speedway Motorsports, Inc. corporate globe. The event included a special visit from Santa Claus and performance by the Northwest High School choir.