California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation: Charity Spotlight Presented By Avion Law - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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California Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Foundation: Charity Spotlight Presented By Avion Law

There is a photograph on the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation website showing a groom caring for a horse. The accompanying caption states, “Workers often put the health of their horses ahead of themselves.”

I have no doubt that is true in many cases.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. Thanks to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit established in 1984, backstretch workers at state racetracks have access to health care at an affordable price, as a vast majority of them cannot afford medical insurance. The CTHF provides medical, dental and vision care on-site and offers referrals for workers who need to see specialists or visit imaging centers for more specialized treatment.

Hot walkers, grooms, exercise riders, pony riders, night watchpersons, assistant trainers and trainers are eligible for treatment, and over the course of a year there will be between 5,000 and 6,000 patient visits. Run by a nine-person volunteer board made up of track and horsemen representatives, a retired physician, several businessmen and an organized labor representative, CTHF has 13 full-time and six part-time employees, including two doctors and three dentists.

The organization is funded largely by racetracks and horsemen to the tune of about $1.5 million annually, but also through the generosity of readers like you.

Those are some of the facts and figures about the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation..

The following story, provided by longtime racing executive Cliff Goodrich, the CTHF's executive director, is a real-world example of the role the organization plays in meeting its core mission.

Horsemen Helping Horsemen – And Non-Profits Helping Each Other

By Cliff Goodrich, executive director, California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation

The California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation's Mission Statement is “bettering the quality of life for backstretch workers.”

Like most heartwarming racetrack stories, few people may know about a given situation, but those who do all feel an investment in helping those less fortunate than ourselves. The ability to help someone else makes everyone involved feel better about themselves.  It provides a sense of self-worth to both the “giver” and the “receiver” for the services rendered.

A recent case in point will underscore what I am attempting to convey.

A couple of months ago I received a call from Darin Scharer, executive director of the Winners Foundation, a non-profit association that provides assistance to racetrack personnel in the areas of chemical dependency, gambling addiction, and mental health in general.

Darin had several patients in recovery, clearly on the road to returning to work, but all needed major dental work, to the point where each would cover their mouths, while in the presence of others, whether talking or not.  They were embarrassed at the state of their teeth.

Darin called me and asked if we could help.  He said none of the patients had any money and that Winners would pay for it.  Knowing Winners was financially stretched like most of the industry's non-profits, I told him that's what CTHF was in business for, and that we would financially take care of it.

While treating the three patients at our Santa Anita Clinic over the course of several months, I remembered that a trainer who often uses our Santa Anita clinic for his own dental work, but who shall remain anonymous, would always write us a check over and above the amount due, while saying on every one of his visits, “Use the extra money for someone who needs it.”

We have tracked those over-payments for several years and ended up using most of the excess money he had donated to the benefit of the three individuals Winners Foundation had referred to us.  Bottom line, the patients paid nothing, Winners Foundation paid nothing, and the CTHF's contribution was its existing staff. Most importantly, these three individuals have ceased covering their mouths in public, and can now smile and be proud of their dedication to get their lives “back on-track.”

I took the liberty of calling this generous trainer.  When I told him how his donations to the CTHF had been used, there was a long pause on the other end of the phone.  Clearly, he was moved knowing he had helped those less fortunate than himself.

This is but one example of horsemen helping horsemen – and non-profits helping other non-profits.

In the end, we believe that happy workers make for happy horses.  We salute the hardworking backstretch community that cares for racing's greatest assets – the equine athletes, along with every person who understands and supports these often overlooked, dedicated workers.

Click here learn more about the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation.

Click here to make a donation to the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation.

The Charity Spotlight is presented by Richard Pearson's Avion Law, a California-based firm specializing on the aviation industry. Avion Law has a “giving back” program supporting awareness campaigns and donating to charitable organizations in and outside of horse racing. For more information on Avion Law, click here.

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