What does harness racing and multiple sclerosis have in common? Quite a lot if you are in the Columbus, Ohio, area on Saturday, July 15. That’s when Pacing for the Cure (PFTC) visits the racetrack at Scioto Downs with a special event with the theme of harness racing. And before I forget to mention it, harness racing is a family event and children are always welcome at Scioto Downs or most other tracks around the country. An added bonus is the food in the concession stands is always priced at family friendly prices (hotdogs at Scioto are $2 and a bratwurst is $2.50).
For a donation of $10 you can join others for a special walk for MS – you can go around the 5/8 mile track by foot. You can also meet the drivers and some of the horses as well as participate in a min-session on harness racing. The track area is normally off limits to spectators and the drivers almost always keep to themselves behind the scenes so this really is a special opportunity to be up close and personal.
Pacing for the Cure is also offering a $25 level, which gets you everything at the $10 level plus a $15 credit to use at the Patio for food (reservations strongly suggested). The top donation of $40 gets all of the #10 benefits PLUS a $30 credit for food in the Clubhouse restaurant (reservations are required). The organizers will also have items to raffle/auction at the event, including a hotel stay and a signed jersey from Sergei Bobrovsky, goalie for the Columbus Bluejackets NHL team.
The is the 2nd year Scioto Downs has worked with PFTC and last year was also the organization’s second year during which they have quickly formed a network of tracks, owners, trainers and drivers to support multiple sclerosis. PFTC is a registered non-profit organization, and money raised is split between research and helping individuals with MS medical costs or mobility equipment like scooters or wheelchairs.
The registration page is a bit awkward/difficult to find on their site, so here is a quick link to register – on this page Scioto Downs Pacing for the Cure. select the DONATE button
Who is Pacing for the Cure?
PTFC was started by Janine and Jeff, who both have close relatives with MS, Jeff’s dad, Bill G has been living with MS for 30 years and Janine’s sister is more recently diagnosed. Janine and Jeff both work in healthcare and are well familiar with MS and the strain it can put on family and resources. They have always been a horse loving family and dabbled a bit in racing horses.
When Jeff saw an upcoming sale with a horse named Mr. Bill G. he knew immediately he wanted that horse. “We have a good race horse, we don’t need a lot of them to have fun and one is enough. He has a nice personality. We’ve had a trainer look at him and we are starting training him now,” said Jeff about Mr. Bill G the horse, but I imagine they also say equally nice things about the first Mr. Bill G.
One thing led to another and Jeff and Janine thought the harness racing community might be supportive of MS causes, and they haven’t been disappointed. Drivers across the country are donating $1 to PFTC each time they win a race, which can add up to a lot of money over the racing season. PFTC hosted a dinner gala at the Harrisburg yearling auction, and has held other events. Breeders, owners and drivers are helping grow the PFTC network. You can find out more about this organization on their website Pacing for the Cure.
This is their second walk for MS this year – the first was at the Meadowlands, East Rutherford, New Jersey, and had over 100 people walk the racetrack. PFTC also plans to host midwest MS events at Red Mile, Lexington, Kentucky, and Hoosier Park, Anderson, Indiana. Jeff said they plan to go everywhere they can in the US to grow Pacing for the Cure. With the help of the entire harness racing community which is demonstrating real excitement toward being involved for MS, Jeff says PFTC “has already grown beyond belief and our expectations.”
On a personal note, our daughter Kristin is very much into harness racing, and has started her own blog Pony Power Plus where she shares insights on the horses, drivers and handicapping a race. Be sure to check out her story on Pacing for the Cure and her other articles. If you come to Scioto Downs on July 15, be sure to look for me around the registration area and introduce yourself.