The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities awarded a record-breaking $660,000 to area children’s agencies tonight during the Night of Smiles event at Bristol Motor Speedway thanks to a phenomenal year of support and fund-raising.

The inaugural Jeff Byrd Grant, a $50,000 endowment established this year in honor of the former president and general manager of BMS who passed away last year, was awarded to New Clothes For Kids.

A total of 84 agencies received grants this year, also establishing a record.

Claudia Byrd, executive director of the Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, said setting new marks for number of agencies receiving aid and the amount of money allocated shows the giving nature of our region.

“We are absolutely overjoyed with the amount of money we were able to raise this year,” she said. “Last year, I believe, was the first time we hadn’t surpassed the previous year’s total, and to be honest I wasn’t really sure we were going to be able to this year. But we had so many great events and got such amazing support from this community and beyond that we ended up with a record amount.

“We certainly couldn’t do this without all the special people who volunteer their time and efforts – they are the most caring and compassionate people in the world. We’re so very fortunate too that the folks in this community always, always support us. All of these people open up their hearts because they want nothing more than to help children in need and without all of us working together toward that goal, none of this would be possible.”

Byrd also was very happy to award the Jeff Byrd Grant to New Kids For Clothes, which will use the funding to build an area where children can come to pick out their own clothes.

“Jeff would be so happy about this grant,” Byrd said of her husband. “Everybody who knew Jeff knew how much he loved kids and how dedicated he was to doing all he could to help improve their lives. And that’s exactly what New Clothes For Kids is all about. This money will help them give kids the opportunity to come into a place and actually select the clothes they like best. And I think Jeff would think that was so cool – he would absolutely love it.”

The $660,000 raised in the last year brings the total to more than $6.5 million raised by the Bristol Chapter of SCC, a non-profit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of needy children, over the past 14 years. In the last three years alone, nearly $2 million has benefited children’s agencies in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Among the other agencies receiving grants were CASA for Kids, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee, Haven of Rest Rescue Mission, Small Miracles Therapeutic Equestrian Center, Hope for Tennessee/Frontier Health, Bread of Life Children’s Ministry by Bread of Life Food Pantry, Friends of Russell County Library, Holston United Methodist Home for Children, Hope Center and the Tazewell County Association for Retarded Citizens TASK (Taking Action for Special Kids).

A number of fundraisers are held throughout the year by the Bristol Chapter of SCC, including the upcoming AutoTrader.com Speedway In Lights powered by TVA at BMS, which opens for its 15th season tomorrow, Nov. 18. Other events that benefit the non-profit organization include the 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.

The AutoTrader.com Speedway In Lights powered by TVA light show is open nightly from 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 7. Tickets are available at the BMS gate. Ticket prices for cars are $10 Sunday through Thursday, and $12 Friday and Saturday. Activity van tickets are $15 each night and bus tickets are $65 each night.

For more information about Speedway In Lights and Speedway Children’s Charities please visit www.bristolmotorspeedway.com or call 423-989-6900.