Gov. Nathan Deal speaks with Scott Barresi, founder and chief executive officer of Stockbridge-based World Internet Group, before a breakfast fundraiser for causes for affecting children Tuesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
HAMPTON — There are many issues facing Georgia’s children, and there is a need to support organizations that work to address those matters, Gov. Nathan Deal said.
Deal told a group of elected and business officials, mainly from across the Southern Crescent, that children have to face a cornucopia of problems. They can range from eating too much to not having enough to eat, and from dodging drunk boat drivers on lakes to avoiding serious brain injuries on football fields.
And it is for that reason, he said, that supporting organizations that work with children is vital. Deal made these comments during a breakfast fundraiser to support Speedway Children’s Charities at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“We believe what you do here in providing funding for this charitable organization will go a long way toward addressing many of the issues and the needs that children have here in our state,” said Deal.
Speedway Children’s Charities is a nonprofit organization founded in 1982 by Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports and Sonic Automotive. Its mission is to help children with their educational, financial, social and medical needs so they can be productive members of society in the future.
This marked the second year Deal has hosted a fundraising breakfast for the organization.
“When it comes to children, the children’s charity that the speedway is a part of, and you’re here to support today, is certainly one of those kind of activities that goes a long way to helping children in ways that perhaps other organizations really can’t help them,” said Deal.
“I understand that since it was started, this particular charity at the Atlanta chapter has raised more than $3 million for children’s needs all across our state,” he added. “That money brings additional revenue and certainly does produce the kind of results in helping children in a variety of different ways.”
While introducing the governor, Henry County Solicitor General Trea Pipkin said Deal began advocating for children decades ago, when he gave up a private law practice to become a prosecutor. It was through that role that he saw crimes committed against children, said Pipkin.
“Since his mid-20s, he has been fighting for Georgia’s children ... in various roles for over four decades, and as he is doing now, here, today supporting Speedway Children’s Charities,” said Pipkin.
Deal said the state is continually taking up children’s issues.
He pointed to recent legislation tackling blood-alcohol limits for people driving boats, boating safety requirements for kids, concussions among young athletes, the addition of CPR training to school curriculums and juvenile justice reform as signs that Georgia continues to address issues that directly and indirectly deal with children.
In many cases, those pieces of legislation were drafted in response to tragedies befallen children, the governor pointed out.
“Unfortunately, sometimes legislation becomes a necessary step,” said Deal.
But the governor added the state continues to have child-related issues which need to be addressed. Examples, he said, include childhood obesity and hunger. The state was ranked No. 2 in the nation for childhood obesity as recently as 2009, but it continues to have a problem with childhood hunger.
“The irony with children in our state is that we’re caught between two extremes,” said Deal.
The state has made attempts to address both issues. Deal said the state has implemented a S.H.A.P.E. initiative to promote recreation activities among children. At the same time, it has partnered with the No Kid Hungry program to work on efforts to bring an end to childhood hunger in Georgia.
Deal tied those issues back to the need to supports groups such as Speedway Children’s Charities.
And Ed Clark, president and general manager of Atlanta Motor Speedway, then tied it back more specifically to Clayton and Henry counties. He said speedway staff have several events lined up to help raise additional funds for the charity.
Area golfers can sign up to compete against NASCAR drivers at the Reed Sorenson Charity Golf Classic, which will be held Aug. 29 at Crystal Lake Golf Club, 100 Crystal Lake Blvd. in Hampton. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and there will be a shotgun start at 10 a.m.
There will be an NRA David Ragan Shoot-Out Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. at Cherokee Rose Sporting Resort, 895 Baptist Camp Road in Griffin.
On Sept. 1, the speedway will host the Coca-Cola Family Track walk at 10 a.m. Participants will get to walk the speedway’s track before the AdvoCare 500 race.
There will also be a 50/50 raffle from Aug. 29 until Sept. 1.
“Almost all of those dollars come back to this community to help children in need,” Clark said.
Call speedway staff at 770-707-7492 to sign up for an upcoming fundraising event, or log onto http://atlanta.speedwaycharities.org to make a donation.