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Jockeys Express Their Gratitude

There was a $5 check from a 10-year-old girl in Ohio, everything she could spare for a donation to the benefit fund.

There were the priceless hand-made miniature tack boxes, decorated with pictures of horses and various other wildlife made in their grandfather’s woodworking shop by Olivia, 7, and Scottie Bethke, 10, one for each of the injured jockeys, Don Proctor, Paul Nolan and Scott Stevens.

Of course, none of it might have happened without the brainstorm from Kendall Van Winkle, 10, who came up with the idea of a benefit and got it rolling with the help of sister Taylor, 12, and their friend, Courtney Padilla, 12.

Jockey agent Richard Grunder picked up the idea and ran with it, arranging a spaghetti benefit and silent auction. The annual Don MacBeth Jockey Fund benefited from local publicity about the plight of the three Canterbury riders at the time and attracted record giving. Other events followed.

Stevens, Nolan and Proctor each expressed his heartfelt thanks in different ways to the track personnel, management, riders, trainers, fans and everyone else who participated in the drive to raise funds for them in their time of need.

“Fans, people we’ve never met, stop us in the stands and ask how we’re doing. I still start to tear up when I talk about some of these things,” Nolan said.

Proctor was overwhelmed at the notion that it was Kendall who came up with the idea. She babysits his twin toddlers. “She’s very special,” he said. “This was her idea.”

Stevens was hurt worst of all in the spill but is up and around and even making daily appearances at the track or the backside.

“We just want to thank all the trainers, riders, fans and everyone,” Stevens said. “There’s so many people that we don’t want to forget someone. “So, we thank anyone who was part of all this.”