BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) — With the pandemic in full swing, the dream of fundraising in 2020 was snuffed, but when Bristol Motor Speedway announced NASCAR drivers could race on dirt again for the first time in decades, a fundraising dream was rekindled.
“We really, really have relied on in the past race weekends to, you know, fill the bank account, we are an event fundraising organization and we always have been and so when COVID hit we really kind of had to change our model,” said Betsy Holleman, head of development and events for Speedway Children’s Charities. “But now we’re getting back into the events and this is going to make a huge impact we were used to bringing in about $30,000 with red bucket, and so when we weren’t able to send people into the grandstands to solicit donations for Speedway Children’s Charities we thought how do we get there. So this is gonna make a huge impact and really kind of fill the void for some of that that we’ve missed.”
In 2020, the charity’s famous Red Bucket Brigade was unable to enter the grandstands at Bristol Motor Speedway during the races – which only featured some of the spectators. Claudia Byrd, director of Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities told News Channel 11 that the nonprofit only raised roughly $450,000 in 2020, markedly less than usual.
“We did have to do something new and different, since there are still events we’re unable to do, so we had the idea of selling the dirt. It’s been 50 years since NASCAR has raced on dirt, and that’s huge,” Byrd said.
The Bristol Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities has sold over 1,300 of these dirt jars, all proceeds going to kids in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. But jars of dirt aren’t the only ways you can enjoy the dirt or be charitable.
Saturday at 8:30 a.m. the nonprofit will host a “dirt walk” where spectators can walk on the dirt-filled race track. For those who have not pre-registered, late registration will be between 7 and 8 a.m. at Gate 13, officials said.
Another option, if you’d like to donate to help children in Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia, is text “kids win” to 44321.
Or visit the charity’s website to donate.
“Everybody wants a jar,” Holleman said. “We were completely shocked by how quickly this took off.”