Members of the Acadiana racing community, along with Officials at Evangeline Downs Racetrack, have joined forces to ensure that people in need, employed in all sectors of the racing industry, will receive assistance in maintaining a good quality of life.
The Racing Employees Assistance Program, or REAP, was patterned after the Backside Benevolent Fund (BBF). These groups have been established to provide relief to licensed members of the racing community and members of their families. Organizers of the programs pledge that such relief will include financial assistance for medical care, food, housing, clothing, education, recreational activities, counseling, job training/placement, and much more.
"We are excited to institute this program at Evangeline Downs," said David A. Yount, Executive Director of Racing Operations for Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino and newly elected President of REAP. "The quality of the lives of all our employees is a top priority and we are sure this will provide us with further opportunity to achieve this goal. The money we raise through this organization will remain here at Evangeline Downs."
Oran Trahan, President of the Louisiana HBPA and newly elected Vice President of REAP added, "I have seen first hand just what the BBF has done at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City for the horsemen and their employees. Our community is such a charitable one, so I know this will become a very successful organization that will provide the resources for the betterment of those individuals that need it the most."
Spokespersons on behalf of REAP have announced that their non-profit group will hold an Inaugural Benefit Banquet (REAP - the Benefit) to help raise funds necessary to begin providing assistance to the employees. REAP's banquet, to be held Aug. 10 at the Holidome in Lafayette, will feature a sit-down dinner, live entertainment, both a silent and live auction, and a reverse drawing worth $5,000.
The live and silent auction items at the benefit will include a trip to Lone Star Park for their annual Jockey Challenge, framed signed prints from equine artist Fred Stone, a handmade horse quilt, Breeder's Cup day in the suite for 20 at the Original Evangeline Downs (includes parking, admission, food, and drinks), equine services and supplies, and much, much more.
Entertainment at the banquet will feature Randy James, a local guitarist, and comedian Murray Conque. REAP's benefit will begin at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour followed by a full evening of fun.
Anyone interested in purchasing tickets for the event or making contributions may do so in a number of fashions. Individual tickets are available for $25 each or $30 at the door. Additionally, individuals may purchase VIP tables, seating eight, for $200. VIP tables guarantee that a party will be seated together.
"Gold" tables, seating eight individuals, are available for a cost of $600. The purchase of a gold table ensures select seating as well as a signature, take-home table centerpiece.
"We would like to encourage those passionate about horses and horse racing to join with us in this cause," continued Yount. "Horse racing has a long and rich tradition in Acadiana that will continue to prosper, especially now with our move next year to Opelousas. This organization will ensure that we aide, educate, and grow the work staff in the local area to continue the growth of this industry."
REAP is currently accepting either monetary or tangible donations to help promote the program and host the banquet. Persons interested in donating to the cause, purchasing tickets or volunteering their services should contact the Evangeline Downs Racetrack for more information at 337.896.7223.