Following the success of the first ever Speed51 Elite Snowball Derby, Speed51 and Five Flags Speedway have announced a donation of $1,000 to Pensacola's 98.7 Cat Country’s Christmas Wishes program.
Held during the week leading into the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby in December, the first-ever eSports Snowball Derby was broadcast live on Speed51 and hosted by the Elite Racing League. The event featured more than 70 competitors fighting to become the first ever Speed51 Elite Snowball Derby Champion. Each competitor participating in the event paid an entry fee, with all proceeds benefiting the Cat Country Christmas Wishes program.
Speed51 is going above and beyond its promise to donate proceeds from the event to the program by donating $1,000. The annual charity effort led by Pensacola’s 98.7 Cat Country helps underprivileged children and families by fulfilling wishes submitted by those in need. In 2019, the Christmas Wish program was able to grant wishes for 170 families.
Speed51 President Bob Dillner was thrilled to be able to be to continue Speed51’s support for the Pensacola area through a new avenue.
“Brent Lane and his staff at CAT Country do such a tremendous job with Christmas Wishes to make that time of the year a little more merry for several children," Dillner said. "We just wanted to be part of that because the Pensacola region is so important to us; we enjoy being part of the community. I believe this is something we can continue to grow for years to come.”
Brent Lane, 2019 Academy of Country Music Personality of the Year with 98.7 Cat Country, was thrilled to hear about the early donation towards the 2020 Christmas Wish program. He explained that the donation will be able to help anywhere from two to five families.
“This will allow us to do toys and help with anything from somebody needing Christmas Dinner for a family to clothes," Lane stated. "Most of the time we grant Christmas Wishes with Wal-Mart Gift cards because you can get toys, clothes, food. You’d be surprised how many families need it all.”
Lane recalled one example where a previous wish recipient was later able to return the favor.
“We had a family 12 years ago. Their Christmas Wish happened to be the means to go see a dying mom. We ended up flying this lady out there. This year, she year she wrote a $1,000 check and said it’s time to give back. They’ve been waiting to be able to do that. They wanted to remain anonymous. We are very purposeful in helping grant wishes in their part of Pensacola.”
Tim Bryant and Five Flags Speedway have been big supporters of the Christmas Wishes program, providing Snowball Derby tickets to help fulfill wishes of young race fans. Lane recalled the enjoyment that this year’s recipients had.
“Over the years we’ve been able to give a lot of kids that would have no hope of going to a race like that, the opportunity to do so. This year it happened to be a Big Brother/Big Sister situation, the little brother wanted to go to the races, so we were able to help grant that wish. They were able to go all four days, which was outstanding."
Through the official eSports Snowball Derby event, Bryant was thrilled to be able to provide another avenue to give back to the city of Pensacola.
"The Snowball Derby continues to grow each and every year with new additions people look forward to, and quite honestly, have come to expect. This year, we were proud to partner with Speed51 in offering an all new eSports version of the event," Bryant said. :The real reward for this effort, however, was knowing that proceeds will be used to help make Christmas special for less fortunate children in our area through the Christmas Wishes program, administered by Cat Country 98.7 FM. We would like to offer our sincere thanks to 98.7, Speed51, and to all the participants for allowing us to be a part of this project."
Devon Morgan made a strategy call before halfway to win the eSports Snowball Derby main event and the $151 check that went along with the victory.
Speed51 continues to support eSports through sim racing, including the upcoming Speed51 Elite Chili Bash event on Tuesday, January 21. Racers can sign up to compete in dirt midgets at the virtual Tulsa Expo Raceway, live on Speed51.com. For more information, visit: https://speed51.com/speed51-to-host-elite-chili-bash-sim-race
-Story by: Patrick Hahe, Speed51 Technology Coordinator