Gallyn Mitchell

Gallyn Mitchell

Erin Palmer/Emerald Downs

Gallyn Mitchell Fundraiser Raises $23,000

Emerald Downs' all-time leading rider suffered a heart attack in April.

Before a capacity crowd on the night of June 15 in the Emerald Room at Emerald Downs, a fundraiser for Gallyn Mitchell raised nearly $23,000 as the racing community rallied around the track's all-time leading rider who suffered a heart attack in April.

Led by a $1,400 winning bid on jockey Gary Stevens' whip used aboard Oxbow  in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the preliminary total is $22,595. With a few sales yet to be settled, the final amount could reach up to $25,000.

Director of merchandising Kerry Dalton, who organized the event with Kelli Amundson and her sister Sandi Amundson, said she was extremely pleased with how many people attended the event.

"People in our industry always come together when someone in our family is in need," Dalton said. "The results of this event are astounding. It is truly touching to see how many people came out to support Gallyn and his family."

The event auctioned off 143 items including six pieces via live auction, conducted by the event's emcee/auctioneer Joe Withee. The auction's final item, Stevens' Preakness-winning whip, induced a bidding war between trainer Doris Harwood and her husband and owner Jeff Harwood. After a back and forth battle, Doris Harwood's tenacity paid off. As it turns out, she gave the prize to her a husbanda father of five and grandfather of sixas an early Father's Day present.

Mostly filled with laughs and pleasant conversation, the event had many heartfelt moments as well. Both Mitchell and his wife Denise Mitchell were overcome with emotion while thanking the event attendees.

"We are just so overwhelmed," said a tearful Gallyn Mitchell. "Shoot, I didn't know this many people loved me that much."

Mitchell, who has ridden all 17 seasons at Emerald Downs, is not expected to ride in the near future. But the 50-year-old veteran jockey said his ultimate goal is to return to racing.

"You guys will see me again down (in the jockeys' room)," Mitchell said. "I'll be back."