Speedway Children's Charities will donate in excess of $854,000 to organizations in the Charlotte region benefiting area children during tonight's annual Charlotte Motor Speedway tree lighting ceremony.

Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway, will join Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Sadler, executive director of Speedway Children's Charities, in awarding the grants to 93 local organizations.

"Children are a gift and it's a blessing that we're able to assist so many each year," said Smith. "Everyone at Speedway Children's Charities strives to make a difference in the lives of as many children as possible, and this year we're helping kids though programs at more than 90 organizations in the Charlotte Motor Speedway community. It's just amazing to see how many children we're able to assist."

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, the holiday ceremony will include the lighting of Charlotte Motor Speedway's one-of-a-kind 50-foot Christmas tree and visits by Santa Claus and Lug Nut, the world's fastest mascot.

Fans will also have the opportunity to drive their personal vehicles around Charlotte Motor Speedway after the tree lighting ceremony. Those who donate $25 to Speedway Children's Charities will be able to take three laps around the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

2009 Charlotte Chapter Grant Recipients

A Better World

A Child's Place of Charlotte, Inc.

A Place for Hope, Inc.

Abilities Unlimited of the Carolinas, Inc.

Adolescent and Family Enrichment Council

Alexander Youth Network

Allegro Foundation

American Red Cross - Cabarrus County

Arts for Life

Assistance League of Charlotte

Autism Services of Mecklenburg County, Inc.

Autism Speaks

Barium Springs Home for Children

Bethlehem Center of Charlotte, Inc.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Charlotte

Birthday Blessings

Bostonian Elementary School PTA

B.R.A.K.E.S.

Cabarrus County Partnership of Children

Camp CARE, Inc.

Carolina Youth Commission

Charity League, Inc.

Charlotte Emergency Housing

Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center

Children's Home Society of North Carolina, Inc.

Communities in Schools of Cabarrus County

Communities in Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Inc.

Communities of Rowan County, Inc.

Crisis Assistance Ministry

Crisis Pregnancy Center of Gaston County

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Donors Choose, Inc.

Dore Academy

Easter Seals UCP North Carolina

Family Services Inc.

Florence Crittenton Services Inc.

GHA, Inc.

Girls on the Run International

Harvest Kitchen Outreach, Inc.

Hispanic Learning Center of Cabarrus County

Holy Angels, Inc.

Hometown Heroes, Inc.

Jimmie Johnson Foundation

Jonie and Friends

Junior League of Charlotte, Inc.

Kannapolis Boys & Girls Club

KinderMourn, Inc.

Kurt Busch Foundation

Legacy of the Vine Ministries, Inc.

Levine Children's Hospital

Lukemia & Lymphoma Society

March Forth with Hope Foundation, Inc.

MARA

Misty Meadows Mitey Riders, Inc.

Muscular Dystrophy Association, Inc.

NB Mills Elementary School

NorthEast Foundation, Inc.

Our Kids

Partners in Out-of-School Time

Philips Academy of North Carolina, Inc.

Piedmont Mediation Center, Inc.

Piedmont Residential Development Center, Inc.

Pregnancy Resource Center of Charlotte

Prevent Child Abuse N.C.

Prosperity Community Connection, Inc.

Room at the Inn, Inc.

Rowan Regional Medical Center Foundation

Saving Grace, Inc.

Seigle Avenue Partners, Inc.

Seigle Avenue Preschool Cooperative, Inc.

Shelter Health Services, Inc.

Silent Images, Inc.

Special Olympics North Carolina

Special Olympics North Carolina - Cabarrus

Stanley County Family YMCA

The Academic Learning Center, Inc.

The Arc of Cabarrus County, Inc.

The Arc of Mecklenburg County, Inc.

The Junior Charity League of Concord

The Parker Austin Foundation, Inc.

The Salvation Army of Cabarrus County

The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte

Third Creek Elementary School

Thompson Child & Family Focus

Tony Stewart Foundation

Troutman Elementary School

United Family Services, Inc.

University City Fellowship

With Friends, Inc.

YMCA of Greater Charlotte

York County Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Youth Homes, Inc. (YHI)