Eugene and Laura Melynk, who campaign NetJet Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) contender, Host, used Breeders' Cup week to garner continued support for Anna House, a childcare center for working families at Belmont Race Track.
The Melynks, who pledged an initial $1 million toward funding the facility, hosted a breakfast Friday morning at Belmont Race Track to celebrate the children and work of volunteers who contribute their time and energy to Anna House, named after the Melnyk's oldest daughter.
The Melnyks were unable to attend the breakfast, but are still scheduled to make the Breeders' Cup races Saturday, a spokesman said.
"Having Eugene and Laura Melnyk in the background is a wonderful gift and has made Anna House what it is today," said the organization's executive director Donna Chenkin. " I can know that Eugene and Laura are there when I need them. Eugene really wants the rest of the horse racing community also to participate in Anna House and that's why he gave this breakfast."
The breakfast included a choreographed singing performance of the "Anna House" song by children who attend the center as well as a recorded video message from Eugene Melnyk who expressed his personal reasons for contributing to the center and a plea for others to contribute as well.
Anna House is operated by the Belmont Child Association, which was established December 1998. The association is a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining a child care center for the benefit of working families at New York Thoroughbred racetracks and providing scholarship assistance to families unable to afford the cost of child care.
In his recorded message, Eugene Melnyk said he remembers walking along the backstretch of New York racetracks wondering where are all the children?" He said he recognized the need for a facility he calls "a house of love and hope" for children of backstretch workers.
"When I found out this was a way to build a sanctuary where children can learn, they can play, and they could be loved, it was simply an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Melnyk said.
"You never know what's going to become of these children," he added. "They could become the next top jockey, trainer, or maybe an owner or breeder. But one thing we do know in the meanwhile is they have this tremendous facility where they're being loved for and being cared for."