Trotting 4 Charity hits home for Harris
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And for the first time in his career, Harris is focusing on his future as the whole experience has been eye-opening.
"It's completely changed our lives," he said. "It just even changed my outlook on life. I put a lot of family first and I take my business way more serious than I used to. Before I was training horses and working with (Casie Coleman) and stuff, and it wasn't about setting myself up for the future. Now I'm trying to set myself up for the future and making sure my kids are taken care of because you just don't know anymore."
Participating in Trotting 4 Charity is merely an extension of Harris' life. Ever since Amanda was stricken he has donated as much as possible to breast cancer research.
"When I saw this charity event come on I saw this was a no-brainer to pick this one," he said. "Hopefully it will shine a light on it and hopefully have some others donate to it so 20 years from now another young family doesn't have to go through this again."
Like most everyone involved in the event, Harris has nothing but superlatives to say about it and would love to see it return each year.
"I think it's amazing," he said. "It's really neat to see who everybody picked for a charity and shine a light on some. I thought it was great Matt Kakaley picked a local one at Pocono (Marley's Mission). It's something I never heard of and I looked just to see what it was about after I saw he picked it."
Harris' brother, J Bradley, and Travis Henry are also driving for breast cancer research.
"It does get people's attention within the industry," Harris said. "If we can do it every year, even if we just get decent money, I'm sure over time this will take off and hopefully we can all contribute enough that it helps in the long run."
Canadian driver Doug McNair certainly wouldn't argue with that. McNair is donating to Autism Speaks, mainly because the 2-year-old son of his sister, Amy, has autism.
"It's definitely something I want to raise money for and hopefully help this cause," McNair said.
Doug said his nephew is doing well and that Amy and her husband, driver Billy Davis Jr., "have done a good job with him. You just have to teach him a little bit differently, that's all. He wouldn't even know he had autism."
Robert Shepherd has also made Autism Speaks his charity, and McNair is happy to see what this event means to drivers.
"I can't say enough about it," he said. "There are a lot of guys involved. There's nothing wrong with raising money for charities. Whatever happens (in the races), you're winning for sure."
One of the more popular organizations chosen is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, as Andy McCarthy, Declan Donoway, Montrell Teague, Pat Berry and Tyler Smith have all made it their charity of choice.
Teague, based in Delaware, has no personal connection to St. Jude but admires the work it does.
"I'm just a fan of parents bringing children in there, they don't have to worry about bills, they just worry about getting their child back," he said. "You have kids in there that should be on playgrounds instead of in a hospital bed. They're going through radiation and treatment. It just kills me. That's the worst thing. Cancer doesn't discriminate who it goes to, but usually when you think of cancer you think of somebody older, instead of a child."
And since St. Jude's main source of financing comes from donations, Teague is delighted to see the harness racing community doing its part.
"I think it's a great idea," he said. "We don't really promote too much, this would be a good promotion for other charities to get involved. They see we're trying to help out. The public will be seeing that we'll be wearing jerseys and we support different organizations other than ourselves. We're not even worried about winning any race, it's just having a jersey on and hoping people will try to bid on my jersey and help out a good cause and get a jersey."
Also supporting an organization that helps kids are Brady Galliers and Roger Plante, who will donate to Ronald McDonald House.
"That's just the kind of charity I've always been most interested in," said Ohio's Galliers. "They take them in, take care of them and do different things, like arts and crafts and games. All those kids that have a disease, they don't get to do the everyday normal thing, so every little thing for them counts. Just having people going and hanging out with them, doing fun stuff like that, I'm sure it means the world to them."
Just as Trotting 4 Charities means the world to Galliers.
"It's a really good thing that Ryan and those guys are doing," he said. "It's good for everybody. I don't think this has ever been done and to reach out and do something for the business along with it being a charity event is phenomenal."
Following is a list of drivers and trainers participating in Trotting 4 Charity, with their corresponding charities.
Andrew Harris - The Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Andy McCarthy - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - Science and Medicine
Andy Miller - Pacing For The Cure
Bob McClure - Children's Wish Foundation of Canada
Brady Galliers - Ronald McDonald House Charities
Brian Burton - Potomac Valley Boxing Association
Chris Page - Jimmy V Foundation
Colin Kelly - Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
Corey Callahan - Harness Horse Youth Foundation
Declan Donoway - St. Jude Children's Hospital
Dolores Basilone Case - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Doug McNair - Autism Speaks
Emily Hay - Leukemia Research Foundation
Frank Milby - Talbot Special Riders, Inc.
J Bradley Harris - Breast Cancer Research Foundation
James MacDonald - Canadian Cancer Society
Jim Morrill - Wounded Warrior Project
Julie Miller - Pacing For The Cure
Louis-Philippe Roy - Fondation Rêves d'enfants, Québec - Children's Wish Foundation, Quebec
Marc Campbell - IWK Foundation
Marcus Miller - Dogs For Better Lives
Matt Kakaley - Marley's Mission
Montrell Teague - St. Jude Children's Hospital
Pat Berry - St. Jude Children's Hospital
Robert Shepherd - Autism Speaks
Roger Plante - Ronald McDonald House
Russell Foster - Freedom Hill Horse Rescue
Ryan Macedonio - Big Brothers Big Sisters
Scott Young - Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Scott Zeron - Standardbred Retirement Foundation - Adoptahorse.org
Sean Bier - Cardiac Kids
Simon Allard - Wigs For Kids
Timmy Offutt - Maryland International Harvest Foundation
Tom Jackson - Lung Cancer Research Foundation
Travis Henry - Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Trevor Henry - The War Amps
Tyler Buter - Wounded Warriors
Tyler Smith - St. Jude Children's Hospital
Yannick Gingras - National Pancreatic Cancer Foundation