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Speedway makes a night for heroes

A local business owner is doing what he can to support local soldiers, firefighters, EMS squads and police officers.

Bruce Richards, owner of Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, has declared Friday, Sept. 8, Hometown Hero Night. Anyone showing proof of current service, along with a picture ID, will be admitted into the speedway for free that night along with another adult and up to three children. This will mark the third year that Richards has extended the offer.

This is a way that our family can give back a little bit to them, said Richards. "It's a free night out for their family."

Richards said that because of his close contact with Malta's ambulance corps and fire departments, he has first-hand knowledge of their difficulty in finding volunteers. He said he felt a need as a parent and a business owner in town to offer something back to those organizations. Unable to donate time, Richards created Hometown Hero Night.

This year, Albany-Saratoga Speedway has teamed up with radio stations WGNA and 104.5 FM The Buzz. They will be on site taking donations, which will later be divided equally between local police, fire and EMS departments.

Richards also said Operation Adopt A Soldier will be there accepting items for overseas troops. Items needed include: beef jerky, Slim Jims, boxed fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers, food bars, popcorn, peanut butter and jelly and tuna pouches. Non-food items such as phone cards, eye drops and baby wipes are also suggested. While donations of items are always appreciated, Operation Adopt A Soldier spends a tremendous amount of money each month on postage, so cash donations are also needed.

Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing begins at 7 p.m. Friday night will be a big night for the speedway since it will be crowing the points champions for the 2006 season.

"They're champions in our eyes," said Richards of the soldiers, firefighters, police officers and EMS personnel. "It's only fitting for them to be there when we crown our champions." ""

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