Members of Cub Scout Pack 223 were treated to an up close and personal look at harness racing on Monday evening (Nov. 8) at Indiana Downs. The group, from William F. Loper Elementary School in Shelbyville, Ind., met members of the Indiana Downs drivers colony, participated in winner's circle pictures and received rides in the starting gate throughout the program.
The evening was coordinated by the Indiana Standardbred Association.
The Scouts and their families were given hats and shirts courtesy of the ISA, which also distributed copies of the USTA's Youth Beats magazine. Throughout the night the group was introduced to several drivers, who autographed the hats and shirts and answered questions. Horsemen Brandon Bates, Charlie Conrad, Jason Dillander, Don Eash, Todd Jones, Ross Leonard, Mark O'Mara, Mike Peterson, Doug Rideout, Trent Stohler, Josh Sutton, Sam Widger and Kyle Wilfong each spent time with Pack 223, much to the enjoyment of the youth, ranging from first to fifth grades.
"I think this is wonderful. Kids are getting their pictures taken with drivers and taking rides in the car," commented Bates. "A lot of people don't get the opportunity to experience that."
When they weren't seeking autographs, many of the attendees were cheering the horses on through the stretch and to the wire.
"I think it's fun and all the drivers are doing their best," said Jacob Smith, age 10. "Tell them thank you for signing our hats and shirts."
Added Thomas Fuller, age 9, "I liked seeing all the horses and getting autographs."
Scott Hughes, a committee chairman for Pack 223, said Monday's visit to Indiana Downs is part of an effort to emphasize outdoor events and activities. He said that both the youth and adults thoroughly enjoyed the experience, with the most common comment being "This is cool."
"Indiana Downs is only 10 minutes away and many of the families have not been here," added Hughes. "I feel like we're a big part of this night. It's something I'm going to remember and I'm sure the kids will too."
from the Indiana Standardbred Association