Tonight is the night that Santa usually does his good deeds, but to a group of impoverished youth in Swaziland, Africa, Santa has already come in the guise of the organization Swazi Kids, among whom is the wife of noted Canadian harness racing trainer Blair Burgess, Karin Olsson-Burgess, who is being honored by the U.S. Harness Writers Association with the January Davies Humanitarian Award.
The Swazi Kids organization, based in British Columbia, was founded after the Carlson family went along with father/husband Bruce Carlson on a business trip and stopped in Swaziland, where they were "struck by the pastoral beauty, the gentleness of the people, and the poverty of Swaziland."
The charity started with a focus on helping to educate children there -- hundreds of thousands of their children go uneducated -- and has since spread its ambitions to building projects, drilling for water, and providing the necessities of life.
Olsson-Burgess has been to Swaziland three times herself during her involvement with the organization -- in fact, she was in Africa when she was notified she was to receive this award. Additionally, she and Blair were in on the "ground floor" of Swazi Kids' educational efforts, as the pair has financially sponsored the education of four children for each of the last ten years.
The education of a child in Swaziland can range from $200 per year at the primary level to as much as $700 for a secondary-level year. To learn more of the educational and other programs of Swazi Kids, go to their website at www.swazikids.org.
Olsson-Burgess will receive her award at the Dan Patch Awards Dinner, honoring Stan Bergstein, to be held Sunday, February 12, 2012, at the DoubleTree Hilton at Orlando (FL) SeaWorld.
For tickets to attend the banquet, contact Steve Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org; to take a congratulatory ad in the Dinner Journal, for Olsson-Burgess, in appreciation of Bergstein, or to honor any other award winner, contact Kim Rinker at email@example.com. Reservations at the DoubleTree can be made by calling 800.327.0363; mentioning "USHWA" or "DPA" should get you a discounted rate.
by Jerry Connors, for the United States Harness Writers Association