April is Autism Awareness month, and on Friday night, April 25, the Meadows Standardbred Owners Association will host a special evening of racing to help benefit a local organization.
The event was coordinated by MSOA Director Brad Buxton, MSOA Public Relations Director Heather Wilder, and horse owner John Olshefski.
Olshefski is the driving force behind the Liv With Autism Foundation, and the Liv With Autism Stable, named for his daughter, Olivia, who is autistic.
"I got into the horse racing business about five years ago," says Olshefski. "My family and I decided we were going to start the Liv With Autism Foundation, and also start the Liv With Autism Stable. There have been many studies done that show there is therapeutic help for children with autism from horses. We were excited to combine the two ideas and get into the business."
Olshefski, who has horses racing at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs, The Meadowlands and The Meadows, donates a percentage of all of his horses' earnings to the foundation.
On Friday night, the MSOA will donate its commission from the eighth race on the card to autism awareness. Olshefski wanted the donation to stay local in the Western Pennsylvania area, so the race will benefit Autism Atlas, an organization based in Pittsburgh.
The evening could provide an even bigger benefit to autism awareness, as one of the Liv With Autism Stable's horses, Chekov, will be competing in the 15th race of the night.
Post time for the first race of the Friday card is 6:55PM.
by Jeff Zidek, for MSOA