Speed meeting needs: Make-A-Wish Night returns to Madras Speedway
Back in 1986, the movie 'Top Gun' popularized a phrase that has been a mainstay of the American vernacular ever since: "the need for speed."
This past Saturday, July 16, Madras Speedway turned that phrase around and provided some speed for a need.
The local dirt racing track put together its 18th Make-A-Wish Night, an annual fundraiser in support of the Make-A-Wish Oregon and Children With Hair Loss organizations. In addition to large donations from title sponsors Fuel Safe Systems and High Desert Aggregate & Paving, Inc., stylists from Great Clips in Redmond came to town to cut hair for donations.
Jennifer Packard, the event coordinator at Madras Speedway and a 23-year veteran at the track, said she prefers working with those specific charities because they provide the most money directly to the children who need it.
"All the research showed that they use the money the best out of any (other charity)," said Packard of the Make-A-Wish organization. "Out of every dollar, 65 cents goes to a wish." She added that many other so-called charity organizations spend more on their administrative payroll than they do on helping the cause.
"They give back to the kids and the families," she added.
Similarly, Packard selected Children With Hair Loss as the charity of choice for the hair donations because she feels that organization is the uniquely dedicated to serving the children.
"They were the only ones that I could find that didn't sell their hair," Packard said, adding that this was the reason she stopped donating to Locks of Love after working with that group for years.
Both choices of charities — Make-A-Wish and Children With Hair Loss — were made in hopes of helping out children in need as effectively as possible.
To that same end, hundreds of people came out on a sweltering summer night to support the good cause — and to catch some good races.
But for as exciting as the action on the track was, it was (at least) equaled by the excitement caused by the soulful 'Macarena' dancing and the lightning-quick haircuts that took place at intermission. There were also drivers passing around helmets, cans being collected by the bagful, and rolls of raffle tickets being sold to spectators.
All of it to raise money. All of it going to benefit needy children.
During intermission, Packard spoke about two of those children, 18-year-old Payton and 10-year-old Kaesin, the most recent beneficiaries of Madras Speedway's Make-A-Wish Night. Payton's wish was for a college scholarship, while the younger Kaesin wanted a shopping spree.
Ask and ye shall receive.
Packard noted that this race season, the speedway has felt some of the effects of the recent economic inflation going on in this country. Drivers are feeling those effects at the gas pump, and Packard says that some of them are deciding that they simply can't afford the expense. Still, Madras Speedway has remained determined to make the season as successful as possible — and that includes its big-ticket charity event.
Even despite the high cost of fuel, there were plenty of racers in attendance on Saturday night. According to results on the MYLAPS website, a total of 53 entries made their way onto the track. The main event winners included: Racer Toepelt in the Juniors division; Nathan Augustine in the Late Models division; Greg Prewitt in the Mini Trucks division; Chance Hyser in the Modifieds division; Cory Hazen in the Sportsman division; and Ryan Arnold in the Sprints division.
There are no scheduled races for the next two weeks, but in the meantime, Packard and her team will be returning cans and counting up the money that they brought in on Make-A-Wish Night. Racing resumes at Madras Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 6, with Fan Appreciation Night. All general admission tickets will be $5, and there will also be a kids' bike giveaway. For more information on upcoming races, go online to MadrasSpeedway.com.
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