Breaking fundraising records has become the norm for the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, accomplishing that remarkable feat once again as $712,000 was awarded to area children’s agencies tonight during the annual Night of Smiles event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

An extraordinary year, featuring several new events, enabled SCC to aid a record number of children’s organizations with 87 receiving grants.

The Jeff Byrd Grant, a $50,000 endowment established in honor of the former BMS president and general manager who passed away in 2010, was awarded to Feeding America Southwest Virginia.

Claudia Byrd, executive director of the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, said the community’s support of SCC and its events is the primary reason the organization is able to offer financial aid to so many.

“It truly can’t be emphasized enough,” said Byrd, “the people in this region are absolutely the best. The support we receive is simply amazing. For us to be able to raise and distribute $712,000 to this many agencies speaks volumes about the giving and compassionate nature of our neighbors.

“We added more events this year, which means asking our volunteers for more of their time, and they continue to step up to the plate. Believe me, without all of those caring individuals we couldn’t do the things we do, we couldn’t raise the funds and couldn’t help as many kids. They have the biggest hearts in the world and we’re so fortunate to have them working with us.”

Byrd also was very happy to award the Jeff Byrd Grant to Feeding America Southwest Virginia, which will use the funding for a summer health fair for the next two years.

“Everybody who knew Jeff knows how much he loved kids and how important it was to him to be able to help them.” Byrd said of her husband. “Feeding America Southwest Virginia is going to be able to help about 1,800 children in the area over the next two summers, just not by providing food but also by teaching them how to live healthier lives. I think it’s a fantastic program and I know Jeff would feel the same way.”

The $712,000 raised in the last year brings the total to more than $7 million raised by the Bristol Chapter of SCC, a non-profit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of needy children, over the past 15 years. In the last three years alone, nearly $3 million has benefited children’s agencies in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Among the other agencies receiving grants were Abuse Alternatives, Appalachian Service Project, Barter Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of East Tennessee, Boys and Girls Club of Greeneville, Boys and Girls Club of the Mountain Empire, Carter County Imagination Library, Food For Thought, Hope House of Scott County, Kari’s Heart Foundation, MEOC-Southwest Virginia Children’s Advocacy Center, Ridin’ High Therapeutic Horse Program, Santa Pal, Inc. and Shepherd’s Inn.

A number of fundraisers are held throughout the year by the Bristol Chapter of SCC, including the upcoming Speedway In Lights powered by TVA at BMS, which opens for its 16th season tomorrow, Nov. 16. Other events that benefit the non-profit organization include the SUBWAY Speedway In Lights 5k Run/Walk, the Sharky 500, a rubber shark race, golf tournaments held prior to the NHRA event in June and during the August NASCAR race week, and the Ultimate Bristol Experiences Online Auction, which takes place prior to both the March and August NASCAR races.

Speedway In Lights powered by TVA light show is open nightly from 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 5. Tickets are available at the BMS gate. Ticket prices for cars are $12 Sunday through Thursday, and $15 Friday and Saturday. Activity van tickets are $20 each night and bus tickets are $85 each night.

For more information about Speedway In Lights and Speedway Children’s Charities please call 423-989-6900.