SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) hosted a total of 40 local non-profit organizations, schools and PTAs, or the equivalent of one for every day of the meet, at the Community Outreach Booth and Saratoga Pavilion during the 147th season at Saratoga Race Course which concluded today.
The majority of the non-profit organizations represented on-track throughout the meet were welcomed to the Community Outreach Booth. Prominently located next to the Jockey Silks Room and across from the Saratoga Walk of Fame, the Community Outreach Booth provides non-profit organizations with the opportunity to interact with the thousands of guests who visit Saratoga Race Course each day, share information about their work and host various innovative fundraising initiatives.
Additionally, each participating non-profit organization at the Community Outreach Booth was the subject of a full-page profile in the corresponding day’s Post Parade program, and was also highlighted on the video boards throughout the day.
“The New York Racing Association was honored to welcome dozens of non-profits to Saratoga Race Course this summer, where they had the opportunity to fundraise for their cause and engage daily with thousands of fans. With the equivalent of only one non-profit represented each day, Saratoga Race Course offered a unique setting for these organizations to raise awareness and funds on an almost exclusive daily basis,” said NYRA CEO and President Chris Kay. “We recognize how important these non-profits are to those they serve and are pleased to assist them in achieving their goal of creating a stronger community.”
In addition to offering the Community Outreach Booth as a platform for engagement, NYRA worked with participating non-profits on creative fundraising initiatives throughout the season, including photo opportunities with championship trophies and autograph sessions with industry stars. NYRA also provided complimentary Saratoga merchandise to the non-profits to make available to fans in return for a minimum suggested donation.
One of the most memorable initiatives of the meet came on Monday, August 10 when hundreds of fans lined up at the Community Outreach Booth to have their photo taken with the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup, as part of a fundraising effort to benefit the Double H Ranch. The Lake Luzerne-based not-for-profit organization provides specialized services for more than 2200 children and families dealing with life threatening illnesses each year.
“The Double H Ranch is really excited about this special opportunity. To see the number of people here to support us and have their picture taken with the Stanley Cup is just amazing,” said Double H Ranch Director of Development Eileen Nash on the day of the event. “All of our children attend camp completely free of charge, so it’s really important for us to have community support. The Community Outreach Booth has been amazing. NYRA made this a turnkey process. We couldn’t be more appreciative.”
The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York had a successful day at the Community Outreach Booth on Sunday, August 2. Throughout the afternoon, the Girl Scouts generated hundreds of dollars by offering fans a limited number of Saratoga baseball caps with a minimum suggested donation.
The Watervliet Civic Center, which is celebrating its 69th anniversary in 2015, also had the opportunity to generate funds for its day camp for local youth through the sale of Saratoga baseball caps, which were provided courtesy of NYRA, during the organization’s appearance at the Community Outreach Booth on Monday, August 3.
One of the more creative fundraising efforts employed at the Community Outreach Booth this season was from well-known Saratoga Springs-based men’s singing group Racing City Chorus, which performed barbershop style songs for track guests in return for donations as part of the Saratoga Centennial Day celebration on Wednesday, August 5. The group reprised their appearance on Wednesday, August 26.
“What a fabulous day, we had a great day,” said Jerry Crouth, who has performed with the Racing City Chorus for more than 20 years, following the day’s appearance. “It was very successful from a fundraising standpoint, but even more so from the amount of publicity that we got for our organization. We couldn’t have imagined any better way to generate exposure for the Racing City Chorus than performing at the track on Centennial Day before so many thousands of fans.”
In conjunction with the 88th edition of the Grade 1, $1.25 million Whitney on Saturday, August 8, NYRA welcomed the Capital Region chapter of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation to the Community Outreach Booth. U.S. Marines collected toys and hundreds of dollars in donations for its upcoming annual holiday toy drive. Volunteers with the Marine Corps League returned to the Community Outreach Booth to continue the fundraising efforts as part of Military Appreciation Day on Wednesday, September 2.
Trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Javier Castellano made a special appearance at the Community Outreach Booth on Saturday, August 16 where they signed autographs for fans with a minimum suggested donation to The St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Jockey Kendrick Carmouche, the first African-American to ride regularly at Saratoga in recent memory, also greeted fans and signed autographs at the Community Outreach Booth with a donation to Saratoga Springs-based organization Dyer-Phelps on Wednesday, August 19.
On Friday, August 28, the eve of the 146th running of the Travers, NYRA hosted a food drive at the Community Outreach Booth to benefit the Saratoga Economic Opportunity Council, Inc. (EOC). Guests who donated three non-perishable food items to the Saratoga County EOC received a free commemorative poster of New York-bred champion and Spa favorite Funny Cide in conjunction with New York Showcase Day.
“It means a great deal to us at the Saratoga EOC to receive the opportunity from NYRA to share our mission with the thousands of fans who visit Saratoga Race Course through the Community Outreach Booth. Saratoga is a special place and to have the ability to generate awareness about our community’s needs while raising funds for our efforts in such a popular and well-attended sports venue is tremendous,” said Saratoga County EOC Community Services Program Director Lillian McCarthy.
Following the 146th running of the Travers, racing fans were invited to have their photo taken with the official trophy of the Mid-Summer Derby, the Man O’ War Cup, with a minimum suggested donation to the Capital District YMCA on Monday, August 31. Jerry Crawford, founder and president of Donegal Racing, the ownership group of 2015 Travers winner Keen Ice, greeted fans at the Community Outreach Booth throughout the afternoon.
On Friday, September 4, a total of five thoroughbred aftercare charities appeared at the Community Outreach Booth as part of their ongoing partnership for the sixth annual Run for the Horses 5K, which was held the following day at the Saratoga Spa State Park. Each of the organizations which benefit from the road race had representatives at the Community Outreach Booth, including ACCT Naturally, Heading for Home, Old Friends at Cabin Creek, ReRun, Inc., and the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
Other non-profit organizations which participated at the Community Outreach Booth during the 2015 season include: Backstretch Education Fund; Backstretch Employee Service Team; Christie’s Heartoberfest; FloydWarriors.com; The Giving Circle; Habitat for Humanity; Junior League of Schenectady and Saratoga Counties; Knights of Columbus; Ladies of Charity Saratoga; The Lustgarten Foundation; Opera Saratoga; Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund; Racetrack Chaplaincy of New York; Read Lead Achieve; Saratoga Bridges; Saratoga Rowing Association; Saratoga Senior Center; Saratoga WarHorse; Siena College Athletics; Troy Boys & Girls Club; and United Way of the Capital Region.
Another new charitable initiative offered by NYRA during the 2015 meet provided local schools, PTAs and non-profit organizations with the opportunity to fundraise for their operations during Berkshire Bank Family Monday, presented by Mister Softee. The organizations raised funds at the weekly event by overseeing various activities, such as spin art, with a suggested donation to the participating non-profit. Funds raised were supplemented with additional grants by NYRA and Berkshire Bank.
“Last year we spent a lot of money (at a park) to have a picnic and bring everyone together during the summer and this year we’re raising money (at Saratoga Race Course), we’re bringing in money to get people together so that’s a really good benefit,” said Liz Coleman, president of the Skano Elementary PTA. “It’s a good chance to see friends you normally wouldn’t see over the summer, get together to support Skano and have some fun. We are grateful to all those who have contributed to make this possible for us.”
In addition to the Skano Elementary PTA, Berkshire Bank Family Mondays welcomed the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York; Scotia-Glenville Education Foundation; Chango Elementary School; Stevens Elementary School; and Saratoga Academy.
As part of its commitment to the community, NYRA supports non-profit organizations on local, state, and national levels though fundraisers, donations and awareness campaigns. In 2014, NYRA donated more than $1 million to non-profit organizations. For more information about NYRA’s community initiatives, visit www.nyra.com/saratoga/information/community-relations.