And we land with a thud. After almost 7 months of going non-stop and hosting 6 events, the Las Vegas Chapter is finally able to take a step back and look at what we have accomplished.

 It has been a whirlwind, but it has been fun and we have raised a lot of money for the children of Las Vegas. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little concerned about the economic impact on our organization back in October when our fiscal year began. But, I'm pleasantly optimistic about what I am seeing here in Las Vegas. While charitable giving across the nation is down approximately 40%, we have seen compassion continue from companies and individuals right here in the Valley. People are still supporting charitable causes in town and it's very encouraging to see. We are a resilient people and I truly believe we will fight our way past the struggles and come out much stronger than we were before.

On April 1 we held a fabulous event at the Bellagio, our Mel Larson Night of Champions, presented by Autotrader.com. Speedway Children's Charities honored automotive legend Carroll Shelby for his contributions to the Las Vegas community as well as local racing. The evening was full of some of the top names in racing, including John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Don "The Snake" Prudhomme and NHRA track announcer Bob Frey. Approximately 400 people joined in the evening's festivities.

We are very fortunate to be able to work along side so many wonderful individuals in the automotive community and once again, those associate with the NHRA did not disappoint. Besides giving us some incredible racing at the track that weekend, the drivers were very gracious with their time during the Mel Larson Night of Champions, presented by Autotrader.com. They also signed memorabilia for us to use in future fundraisers, so keep your eyes out for some upcoming auctions and events!

I took some time over the NHRA race weekend to touch base with our NHRA drivers/poker players and they all assured me they'd be back at the tables for the 2009 event- if you play poker and you like drag racing, you don't want to miss this!!

On a personal note, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Holly Faulkner. I was unaware of her sudden illness and passing in December until I traveled to the Oakley souvenir trailer during NHRA to visit her and her husband Donnie. Holly was a bright, vibrant woman who was taken from this world far too soon. Holly and Donnie were blessed with their first child back in 2008 and I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Emma during the October 2008 race weekend. My prayers are with Donnie and Emma and their entire family. Anyone who knew Holly knew what a wonderful human being she was and that we were all better people for knowing her. I know she's looking down on us cradling Eric and smiling.

Janae Melvin
Director
Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities