"If you don't have a CNC, you can still do something!"
That's the motto of Angel Theri G, who recently proved the truth of that with a fantastic Angel event in Shakopee, MN (Shakopee is a suburban town between Minneapolis and St. Paul). The plan was to join the races at Canterbury Park on July 3rd and 4th, but races on the 4th were cancelled due to concerns about the horses coping with extreme heat.
Here is Theri's report...
That was the overwhelming emotion Debi and I walked away with at Canterbury Park on July 3, 2012. Minnesota horseracing lovers came out in droves to the racetrack in Shakopee and opened their hearts and pocket books to support the cause.
With the assistance of Molly Jones at Canterbury, we were able to have several tables set up at the main entrance, strategically positioned between the paddock (where the horses are saddled). So, we had heavy traffic back and forth all day long! Traditionally July 3rd is the busiest day of the season at Canterbury because the evening's racing is followed by a fireworks display in honor of Independence day, so we had high hopes for the event.
By canvassing local merchants, friends, sewing a blanket and matching pillows myself, and using donations from Debi for the “I Feel Pretty” basket, I was able set out ten different gift/goody baskets that we raffled off at the end of the evening. The crowd that gathered for the drawing was amazing and full of excitement. Tickets were $1 each and the beautiful baskets were filled by generous individuals donating items such as Minnesota Twins tickets and handmade bed dolls. Merchants joined in as well, including Salon Ultimo, Wildwood Lodge, Canterbury Park and Valley Chiropractic.
We also set up a table for children where they could color pictures for the troops or send a special message of thanks. They also could guess the number of red, white and blue sunflower seeds in the jar and win a basket I had specifically designed for children.
Debi and I got a genuine kick from some of the kids that came by to chat. One of the jockeys’ daughters had her eye on the bed dolls and recruited everyone she could find to come by our table and admire the dolls and ultimately buy a raffle ticket or two. We kept kidding her that we were going to recruit her; she and her best friend were beyond adorable. Debi and I were thrilled when her raffle ticket was pulled for the bed dolls; her happy dance thrilled the crowd. My heart was about to burst when I handed her that giant basket and it nearly engulfed her, but like the trooper she was carried it away with a skip in her step.
We were busy all day, interacting with hundreds of patrons. Many of them deeply touched us...
Several servicemen stopped by the table and remarked that they had received packages from Angels and told us, “You can never, ever know how much they meant to us.”
One young mother with her four small children stopped by with her mother-in-law and--when the kids were out of earshot--broke down and shared with us that she just had just received news her husband was severely injured in a jeep accident in Afghanistan. As of that moment all they knew was that he wasn’t doing very well, but they were waiting to tell the children so they could enjoy the evening and the fireworks. They were very thankful for the work we do on behalf of men and women like her husband – as thankful as we are for their sacrifice.
Another woman had just spoken to her son in Afghanistan that morning and wanted to know if Soldiers' Angels was something she should know about. She read through our literature, and we let her know how she could get involved and how her son and his comrades could be helped. She was so overwhelmed with gratitude that she just broke down and sobbed.
If you have ever wondered if what we do truly makes a difference, listening to these and other stories of military families so thankful for what we do makes it all worthwhile... and then some! Debi and I were glad we had paper towels on hand because we found ourselves crying along with each person who was sharing their story.
Prior to the event it was decided that should enough money be raised it would be to provide a computer for a soldier who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Thanks to the generosity of the people of Minnesota, this goal was exceeded so now we are also able to provide additional money to assist a returning veteran to secure housing for his family through Operation Outreach.
The day before the racetrack event, Soldiers' Angels and been invited to speak before the Yorktown Continental Association, a group of senior citizens who gather monthly to plan social events and occasionally have guest speakers. I spoke to them for about twenty minutes about Soldiers Angels, our programs and how they can get involved. In addition to giving generous donations, several individuals wanted more information about joining teams and one woman graciously donated some handmade bed dolls that we raffled off at the Canterbury Park event the next day (the same dolls that the child referred to above was enamored with). There were several veterans in the crowd and I made it a point to acknowledge their service since, as the leaders of yesterday, they inspired those that defend us today.
Wing tip to wing tip and proud to be a Soldiers' Angel,
P. S. Two days of events were preceded by many days of hard work and I’d like to acknowledge the tireless support of my fellow angel Debi B--without whom this event would not have been the success it was--and the companies and friends that so generously donated items for the raffl, Molly Jones and the staff at Canterbury Park as well as Phyllis Brevig (whom we affectionately refer to as the Canterbury Nut Lady, as she has a nut counter with a variety of nuts at Canterbury) and the folks at the Yorktown Continental Association for their help and assistance.
Written in collaboration with Ted Grevelis, beat writer for the Daily Racing Form and pictures courtesy of Jillayne Beall and Kevin, her day nurse. In addition to maintaining three current adoptions, Theri's Angel activities include Patriot Pillowcases and Blankets of Hope, membership on the Medical Support Team and administration the Soldiers' Angels Minnesota Facebook page.