(BROOKLYN, Mich.) -- The spirit of giving isn't just a seasonal belief at Michigan International Speedway; it's the racetrack's way of doing business, providing a valuable fund-raising platform for the community year-round.
MIS and its sister company Americrown combined donated a total of $606,469 to local service groups and organizations through cash donations, work programs, grants and sponsorships, as well as tickets and merchandise that clubs raffle to raise money.
"We are very proud of all the effort we put into our community," Manager of Fan Services Jayme Bicknell said. "Many of us live in the area and are an active part of the community. We strive to give back to the different programs to provide memorable experiences for the community members."
In 2013 alone, Michigan International Speedway and its catering and concession partner Americrown donated or paid out more than $470,000 to local charities and service groups through cash donations and work programs.
MIS created The Michigan Heritage, a recognition and celebration of the automobile and its importance to the race track and the manufacturers competing in NASCAR, in 2013. Each manufacturer and MIS donated $10,000 to be given to a youth-related, STEM-related charity in Michigan. The Michigan Science Center received a check for $40,000 to assist in its educational programs.
Additionally, MIS Cares, the speedway's charity arm, awarded $76,469 in cash donations to local charities through its grant program during an annual Community Luncheon at the racetrack on Tuesday. Representatives from all the charities attended, picking up their "big" checks.
· MIS Cares provided $5,451 to Therapeutic Riding's Adopt-A-Horse Program to pay for food, bedding, daily care, veterinary care, fuel and maintenance and farrier care. MIS Cares has adopted Maizy every year since 2010.
· Onsted Elementary School was provided a $10,000 grant for a playground project. This project will benefit not only the elementary students, but also the entire community of Onsted.
· The Daily Bread of Lenawee Inc received a grant for $3,000 to assist the organization with the Hot Meals Program.
· Napoleon Community Schools received a grant for $5,000 for their reading program at Ezra Eby Elementary School. The program is designed for first and second graders, but is available for all ages.
· The Shop Rat Foundation's C0Z Dragster Engineering Project received a grant for $4,995. This program allows Jackson County sixth grade students to design and build a car using science, math and engineering.
· MIS Cares donated $5,000 to the Associated Charities of Lenawee County for their Back to School Program, which provides clothing, school supplies, and hygiene products. The goal of the program is to help with a child's self esteem while at school.
· A $2,500 grant allows nearly 2,000 students from Hillsdale and Lenawee to be engaged in music education with the Lenawee Symphony Orchestra.
· With a $5,000 grant, beginning and struggling readers in kindergarten through second grade in Chelsea, Mich. will benefit from the Friends of Chelsea District Library leveled reading packets.
· The Onsted Community High School received a grant for $5,523 for a new guitar class. The grant will provide the school enough funding to purchase 25 brand new guitars.
· House of New Beginnings received a grant for $4,600 to purchase three new computers as well as an educational curriculum program for the teens that are sheltered there.
· Hospice of Lenawee Inc received a grant for $4,900 for a Family Gathering Spot area. It will be a space for families to gather privately to enjoy nature and create special memories.
· Adrian College and MIS have developed a first-of-its kind science center and science-related field trips to benefit area middle school students. MIS Cares donated $7,500 to the program, which Walmart generously matched, bringing the total to $15,000.
· The Columbia Middle School PTO received an $8,000 donation for the 2013 Circus of the Kids project, a program that provides the opportunity for students to experience social and academic growth through the participation and public presentation of a circus.
· MIS Cares awarded $5,000 to the Ryan Newman Foundation, a national charity fronted by NASCAR driver Ryan Newman and his wife Krissie.
MIS Cares is a donor advised fund of the NASCAR Foundation, a 501 © (3) non-profit entity. MIS Cares' mission is to create a lasting, positive impact on our community through charitable giving and volunteer efforts that cultivate community growth and advances quality of life.
Another $60,000 was awarded through sponsorships and tickets those groups raffle off, also to raise money.
"We provide many annual opportunities for local clubs to earn some money for their groups," speedway President Roger Curtis said. "We couldn't run our business without the help of these clubs; but they certainly couldn't raise the money they need without us, either."
Service groups interested in assisting at MIS for future events may call Tim Booth, director of Guest Services, at (517) 592-6666 to place your service group on a list.
The speedway and Americrown annually work with service groups, church groups, Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions clubs, masons, high school sporting clubs and a host of other non-profit organizations to provide a platform for those groups to earn money for their causes and programs during the racetrack's events.
Imagine how long it would take a high school cheerleading team to generate more than a half-million dollars. That's a lot of bake sales, car washes and lemonade stands.
Service groups annually and frequently assist MIS in a number of ways including tram drivers, car parkers, ticket stubbers, program sellers, T-shirt folders, gate staffers, hamburger flippers and soda jerkers.
MIS Cares raises funds through a number of events, online auctions and donations and Extreme Bus Makeover, a fun event where race fans bid to have their camping/school bus painted.
PHOTO: MIS Cares grant recipients received their big checks on Tuesday at Michigan International Speedway's annual community luncheon. In all, about $70,000 was awarded. First row (left to right): Nancy Evanson (Ezra Eby Elementary), Rhonda Clark (The Daily Bread of Lenawee Inc.), Ann Zalek (Therapeutic Riding Center), Delight Creech (Associated Charities of Lenawee County), Robin Linkowski (Friends of Chelsea District Library), Lynsey Redman (Onsted Elementary School) and Frances Keane and Mike McGuire (House of New Beginnings). Second Row: (L to R): Christy O'Neil (Columbia Middle School), Cindy Farnham (Lenawee Symphony Orchestra), Melissa Marks (Onsted Community Schools), Susan Turner (Hospice of Lenawee, Inc.) and Agnes Caldwell (Adrian College).