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08 giugno 2009

Duff, Speedway team up to feed kids

Actress Hilary Duff will make an appearance at the Kentucky Speedway next month on behalf of an organization that helps feed local children.
Duff will encourage donations for Blessings in a Backpack at the NASCAR Nationwide Series Meijer 300 Presented by Ritz on June 13.
Blessings in a Backpack, a non-profit organization that works to provide weekend nourishment to children in grades K-5 who qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Meal Program, was founded in 2005 in Louisville.
Backpacks are filled with staple items children take home for weekends.
"This organization was started because children in America need our help," said founder Stan Curtis. "Every student should have the opportunity to come to school ready to learn."
The organization helps to feed more than 11,500 students in 57 schools throughout the country. In August, 49 schools will be added to the list, Curtis said.
In addition to providing food, Blessings in a Backpack also aids in student success, Curtis said. Schools in the program are also reporting higher test scores, improved reading skills and an increase in attendance among the students served.
"After the pilot stage of the program, we ask principals or family resource center directors to write us a letter about the impact of the program," he said. "It is absolutely amazing to read what's happening in these schools."
At the event, Duff and 24 students from Gallatin County Schools will participate in several activities at the track, including a pit-road bike relay race before she delivers the command for 43 drivers to fire their engines.
Kentucky Speedway is encouraging visitors to bring new and used backpacks to the race to donate, according to Mike Schmaltz, the Speedway's communications manager. Meijer will have displays at the race, he said, where the donations will be accepted.Long-time supporters like Meijer and Duff make Blessings in a Backpack a successful program, Curtis said. Because of Meijer's involvement, it costs the organization $80 to help feed a child each weekend throughout the school year, he said.
Duff's enthusiasm and work for the organization inspires other young people to get involved, he said, and brings encouragement to students helped by the program.
"Hilary goes out with me to visit schools every three or four months, and I get to see that transformational moment when the students see 'Lizzie McGuire' or 'Cinderella,'" Curtis said. "It's incredible."
Race tickets, infield camping and Big Ticket Deals can be reserved online at www.kentuckyspeedway.com, by phone at 888-652-RACE (7223), through the Kentucky Speedway ticket offices in Fort Mitchell, at 400 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 100, or the track Fan Center located off of Interstate 71, Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N in Sparta. Tickets also are available through Tickets.com outlets including Meijer stores.For more information on Blessings in a Backpack, visit the organization's Web site at www.blessingsinabackpack.com.

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