In their 16th year of raising money for Make-A-Wish the speedway raises $25,321.

STEELE HAUGEN/MADRAS PIONEER - Sportsman division cars zoom around the track at the Madras Speedway during a weekend race in August.Madras Speedway has been raising money for Make-A-Wish for 16 years now, and this year, they raised $25,321 in one night, enough to grant three children's wishes.

July 20 was Make-A-Wish night at the races, where not only were donations made and sponsor checks collected for the organization that aims to grant the wishes of each child diagnosed with a critical illness, but all of the proceeds of sales that night were also given to Make-A-Wish.

Jennifer Packard of the Madras Speed way said, "The reason why we started this is because Make-A-Wish does wonderful things for kids."

There have been great things to come out of this night over the years. A few years back, Packard said, the race track received a star award from Make-A-Wish which indicated that they raised the most money out of all of Central Oregon, including large businesses like Les Schwab.

All of the money raised at these annual Make-A-Wish events stays in Central Oregon, Packard said. Once the wish is granted and the family gets to enjoy the experience together, the speedway gets to receive photos and information about the family's experience.

Make-A-Wish works to grant the wish of each child diagnosed with a critical illness, whether the child wants to go to Disneyland or meet a famous person, the organization asks the child what the one thing they wish is. Packard said that the sad reality is some of those kids end up losing their battle with their illnesses and the experience of the wish allows the family to just worry about being a family.

"They don't have to worry about going to the doctors or anything like that they just have to worry about being a family," she said.

The money raised this year at the track came from several sponsors that Packard works with, who brought their checks up that night, as well as money from raffle tickets and donations from attendees and those down in the pit, too.

She said one man in the crowd came up and donated $2,500 on the spot, while another from the pit gave $500. Those are just a couple examples of the generosity that night. They were also able to raffle off a "race-ready modified car, which brought in $8,500 on its own.

"It's amazing what people do to help out other people," Packard said.

Another way money is brought in for the cause is pretty simple, but not to be overlooked — pop cans. Or really any kind of can that has a deposit on it.

A couple of the guys from the speedway, according to Packard, spend time going around and collecting cans and community members also come by and drop them off.

This year, they raised about $2,000 off the cans alone; that's about 20,000 cans collected, and nearly double what it has been in the past.

The money isn't the only thing they do to help out either. Packard also has volunteers, this year from Great Clips in Redmond, who come out and set up in front of the crowd for those who are willing to donate their hair for wigs.

She said some of the guys specifically grow their hair all year to be able to donate the 8 inches required. This year, they collected 484 inches.

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