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Industry rallies to aid injured driver Coletta

November 20, 2013

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After hearing about the serious accident involving driver Anthony Coletta on Sunday night, the harness racing industry has rallied to raise funds to assist his family as he fights to recover from his injuries at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
The fundraising effort is being spearheaded by Coletta's close friend and trainer Anthony Defrancesco, known as "Pork Chop” to his friends. Defrancesco is accepting donations in Coletta's name and has ordered 6,000 specially designed wrist bands that will have Coletta's name with the words "Stay Strong” on them.

"I ordered 6,000 of them to sell for $5 each to raise money, but I don't know if 6,000 will be enough,” said Defrancesco. The bracelets should be ready for sale by Monday, Nov. 25.

Donations can be made out to Anthony Coletta and sent in care of Defrancesco at 2551 South Mildred Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148. To order wrist bands or to assist in fundraising efforts, he can be reached at 215/385-6732.

In addition, Defrancesco is working with a local bank to establish a permanent fund for Coletta. Details will be announced when they are finalized.

A Facebook "Thoughts and Prayers for Anthony Coletta,” page, which has added more than 4,000 friends since its creation on Monday, can be found by clicking here.

But in the last four days, the charitable endeavors have spread like wildfire to many people and organizations in the industry.

Drivers Yannick Gingras and Dan Rawlings are two of those leading the way.

"I just started doing my own little thing,” explained Gingras. "The last thing that Anthony's family should be worried about is money.”

It started on his Facebook page. "I posted a Facebook message saying that I would be racing for Anthony on Thursday and would donate all of the money I earn,” explained Gingras. "And that was it until yesterday when my sponsor Scott Robinson from RaceHorse Gold said ‘I'll match it.' He was the first to step up.

"Then more people said they would match it and we're up to 11 or 12 now,” added Gingras. "What started off pretty small has become pretty big.”

Rawlings is rallying the troops at The Meadows.

"Dan is collecting checks and cash from a lot of people that he will be taking it up to Harrah's on Saturday or Sunday and he'll be picking up the wrist bands while he is there,” according to MSOA spokesperson Heather Wilder.

And the Standardbred Owners Association of NY is busy collecting donations for Coletta at Yonkers Raceway as well.

"We're doing it the same as when there was the fire in Ohio, we are asking for donations, big or small whatever they can give; we have signs up in the paddock,” explained SOA of NY and USTA Director John Brennan. "All of the drivers are gung ho, they all want to do something.”

At Harrah's Philadelphia, horseman's rep Mike Izzo reports that they will be accepting donations in a collection box starting Thursday.

And according to Defrancesca, Janet Davis at Dover Downs is collecting donations from drivers there, owner Pat O'Brien is donating a percentage of his winnings from Thursday through Sunday, the sales at Delaware, Ohio held raffles to raise money and the drivers at Lebanon will be wearing red and white ribbons, Coletta's colors.

Outside racing, he also has heard from groups who are sponsoring trail rides to raise money for the family too. (By Dan Leary/USTA)

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