Day At The Track

Trotting 4 Charity hits home for Harris

05:00 AM 18 May 2018 NZST
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Andrew Harris Brady Galliers, harness racing Doug McNair, harness racing Montrell Teague, harness racing
Andrew Harris
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For Andrew Harris, the inaugural Trotting 4 Charity event speaks to his two biggest loves -- harness racing and his wife Amanda.

The New Jersey-based trainer is thrilled with the promotion organized by TrotCast's Ryan Macedonio, which will be held May 18-20 at racetracks throughout North America. Participating drivers and trainers will wear a custom-made replica jersey of their own colors, with their selected charity logo displayed on the jersey.

During the weekend, drivers will race in their jersey, while trainers like Harris will have jerseys made for them. After the event, auctions will be held for fans to bid on the jerseys and all proceeds from winning bids will be donated to the corresponding charities.

Andrew will be donating to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, for a very good reason.

"My wife was diagnosed three years ago with breast cancer," he said. "She went a year-and-a-half battling it. It looked like she got by it, they told her she was in remission, and a year ago we were notified it had metathesized to her lung and her thigh. So that charity is near and dear to me."

Harris said Amanda is currently doing all right.

"She's on chemo, fighting the fight," he said. "No bad news yet other than she's got to keep fighting it."

Not only is Amanda battling the disease, she is raising a 4-year-old and 7-year-old, which her husband feels is more of a blessing than an obstacle.

"It keeps her mind off the negative thoughts," Harris said. "If you're focusing on them you're not focusing on your own problems."

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.

Allan Davis - Nemours Children's Hospital

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

Pictures of each jersey will be available at trotting4charity.com or trotcast.com

by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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