Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway’s charitable entity, Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment (R.A.C.E.), donated $58,647 in grants to 21 Chicagoland area charities on Tuesday at their year-end luncheon, raising its total charitable gifts in 2017 to a R.A.C.E. record-setting $74,479.
“It is incredibly rewarding to reflect upon the impact Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway has been able to make on the local community as R.A.C.E.’s sixth year comes to a close,” said Scott Paddock, president of Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway. “We are particularly grateful to the numerous organizations we partner with throughout the season and the individual impacts they are making within the communities they serve.”
Beyond the many organizations that applied for grant assistance this year, R.A.C.E. developed integral partnerships with a multitude of organizations which activated during major event weekends such as the NHRA Route 66 Nationals, the Route 66 Classic and the NASCAR National Series weekend.
The following 24 organizations were awarded grants Tuesday:
- 100 Club of Chicago received $5,000 to fund its Educational Assistance Program which provides financial support to the families of fallen first responders for high education, including undergraduate, graduate, law and trade and vocational studies.
- The Bridge Teen Center offers free afterschool programs that are holistically-designed and include culinary demonstrations, fitness programs, future-focused programs (exposing students to potential career paths), homework support, music lessons, life skills programs, a newly launched job readiness program and much more. A $3,500 grant was provided to support these programs.
- The Cancer Support Center was presented with $3,500 to leverage counseling, support groups, movies, art, friendship, play and other resources to create transformative moments of coping and joy for children and teens with a parent diagnosed with cancer.
- Center for Disability Services received $3,500 to support the Living in a Functional Environment (LIFE Skills Program) which focuses on serving individuals with developmental disabilities by teaching them the fundamental skills necessary to become as independent in life as possible.
- Coal City Soccer Club was selected by Grundy County States Attorney Jason Helland to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Club was presented with $2,000 to foster the growth of soccer in the Coal City area in such a way as to provide recreational opportunities to as many of the young people of the community who desire to play soccer as possible.
- Easterseals was selected by Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. Easterseals received $1,500 to help children and adults with disabilities and special needs find the highest-quality services designed to meet their individual needs.
- Grundy County Community Foundation was selected by Grundy County Executive Chris Balkema to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Community Foundation of Grundy County was presented with $2,000 to bridge people who care with causes that matter by facilitating grants, providing unique donor services and convening the community around issues of concern to develop plans of action.
- Grundy County PADS was selected by Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. Grundy County PADS received $2,000 to provide a sheltering program designed to offer a safe and welcoming place for people to be able to sleep through the coldest months of the year.
- Grundy Resource Organization was selected by the Mayor of Morris, Dick Kopczick, to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Grundy Resource Organization received $1,500 to promote and provide fresh produce to seniors, people with disabilities and low income families in and around Grundy County.
- Miracle League of Joliet was selected by the Mayor of Joliet, Bob O’Dekirk, to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Miracle League of Joliet was presented with $2,000 to provide children and young adults with disabilities the opportunity to play and participate in the game of baseball.
- Morris Police Benevolent Society was selected by Morris Police Chief John Severson to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Morris Police Benevolent Society received $2,000 to assist the community through charitable donations, special events and award a $500 scholarship to a Morris Community High School student each year.
- Muscular Dystrophy Association was selected by Joliet Fire Deputy Chief Greg Blaskey to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. MDA received $1,500 to send children with neuromuscular disease to MDA’s summer camp where they can discover a world created specifically for them, and meet many other kids sharing the same needs and experiences.
- Northern Illinois Food Bank was presented $3,500 to supply the BackPack Program so that children can be nourished on the weekend and return to school ready to learn without the distraction of hunger. Children take home the backpacks on the weekend and bring them back to school on Mondays to be refilled for the next weekend.
- PAWS Chicago received $8,800 in recognition of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final season of full-time racing. Chicagoland Speedway partnered with PAWS Chicago to pay tribute to his remarkable achievements both on and off the track by taking Earnhardt’s deep love for his dogs into consideration. PAWS Chicago, the Midwest’s largest No Kill humane organization, finds homes for more than 5,100 animals each year.
- Pits for Patriots was the recipient of the Miss Classic Queen of Hearts competition. The ladies who competed in the Miss Classic Pin Up Contest were challenged to solicit donations during the Route 66 Classic event with the contestant that earned the most crowned as the Queen of Hearts. Pits for Patriots rescues and trains pit bulls to act as service dogs for veterans and first responders with physical and emotional needs at no cost to the recipient.
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland is the sole beneficiary of the Chicago Brushmasters charity art auction. The Brushmasters is composed of over forty of the Midwest's top custom painters. These artisans attended the Route 66 Classic and held several auctions which generated $4,754.91 for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana cares for families of children with complex medical needs by providing comfort, compassion and a sense of community.
- Special Olympics Illinois was selected by Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Special Olympics received $1,500 to provide children and adults with intellectual disabilities year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of sports.
- Team Make A Difference was selected by Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. Team Make a Difference was presented with $2,000 to grant someone in need in their community with a place of serenity to rest comfortably, heal and restore hope.
- United Way of Will County was selected by Will County Executive Larry Walsh to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. United Way received $1,500 to help unite communities and resources by empowering people and creating positive, sustainable change.
- Will County Children's Advocacy Center was selected by Will County States Attorney Jim Glasgow to benefit from his participation in the Route 66 Classic. The Advocacy Center received $1,500 to provide services to young victims of sexual and physical abuse. Services The Center provides include: implementing child-sensitive interviews for law enforcement purposes, counseling, medical exams, legal advocacy and community resource referrals.
- Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community received $3,500 to enhance Youth Leadership Education among high school students who live in Wilmington School District 209U by sending 15 students to summer leadership training and supporting the community projects they undertake afterwards.
- Lastly, the Bolingbrook Explorers Post #38, the Dominican University Softball Team and the Lewis University Softball Team were recognized for their outstanding efforts in staffing and executing 50/50 raffles at Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway events. The Dominican University Softball Team alone sold over $50,000 in raffle tickets between the NHRA Route 66 Nationals in July and the NASCAR Premier Series weekend in September 2017.
R.A.C.E. is a donor advised fund of The NASCAR Foundation, a 501c3 charitable entity. With a focus on youth, safe driving and the military, R.A.C.E. raised funds over the course of the year through community events, raffles and auctions. The three principles guided the seven-member R.A.C.E. Advisory Committee, which was responsible for evaluating grant applications throughout the year.