Speedway Children's Charities officials announced today that the far-reaching nonprofit will distribute more than $3.1 million in grants to a record 448 charitable organizations across the country this year, bringing the total allocation amount since 1982 to nearly $49 million.

Funds distributed by Speedway Children's Charities chapters at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway totaled $3,101,207.63 in 2016 - an increase of more than $200,000 from last year's high mark. Speedway Children's Charities raises grant money through fundraisers, including clay shoots, track events, holiday light displays, auctions for unique race experiences like driver ride-alongs and more.

Each chapter provides grants to programs which specifically help children in their respective region. Chapter support comes from providing winter coats and backpack meals to low-income families as well as facilitating clubs that provide healthy after-school activities and aiding hospital cancer research.

"Our impact is felt throughout the nation and none of it would be possible without the invaluable support of race fans and the tireless work from our volunteers who have helped make Speedway Children's Charities into what it is today," said Maj. Gen. Chuck Swannack, executive director of Speedway Children's Charities.

"On behalf of everyone at Speedway Children's Charities, I give sincere thanks to our many sponsors, donors and volunteers. Through everyone's gracious assistance, Speedway Children's Charities will help make the holiday season and beyond brighter for children in need."

Changing lives for the better in Atlanta

One particular success story of SCC's Atlanta chapter is that of Ruben, a young man who was sent to a local alternative school following an incident on a school bus.

Ruben was on probation at the time, and his teachers immediately understood that he would need extra attention. The 14-year-old liked to draw, so he was referred to ARTreach 180, a school in Henry County for at-risk youth. When he arrived, he was suffering from crushing stress and repressed anger and resentment. His parents were not together anymore, and the man who was providing him a home was neither his father nor his step-father.

He had little respect for his mother during that rocky season in his life, and in fact, had little respect for anyone, including himself. He did not know how to give love or receive it, because he could not harbor trust in anybody.

As he progressed through the program at ARTreach 180 during his high school years, Ruben began to open up by expressing his emotions and speaking through his artwork and poetry. ARTreach 180 gave Ruben a place to belong and helped him develop leadership skills he wasn't even aware he had.

Ruben remained with ARTreach 180 for five years, becoming a peer mentor during his junior year and a paid intern during his senior year. He has often said that had he not found ARTreach 180, he would likely be in a gang, in jail or dead, and he certainly would not have graduated from high school this past May.

These days, Ruben is very close with his past instructors at ARTraech180 who helped him to realize his potential and set him on a path to success. Ruben's and many other stories have been made possible by grants from SCC to programs like ARTreach 180, who first received contributions from the charity in 2009.

For more information on Speedway Children's Charities or to learn how to volunteer or make a donation, visit www.speedwaycharities.org.

The mission of Speedway Children's Charities remains true to the ideals it was founded upon in 1982: To care for children in educational, financial, social and medical need in order to help them lead productive lives. SCC provides funding for hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout the nation that meet the direct needs of children. Our vision is that every child has the same opportunities no matter what obstacle they are facing.