The community raises $35,000 in support of an injured Hastings Racecourse

VANCOUVER, June 22 /CNW/ - On Saturday, June 19, Hastings Racecourse marked a special day as it welcomed back April Friesen, a veteran jockey who was involved in a terrible three horse spill at the track on May 15.

A very courageous April Friesen lifted herself from a wheelchair and stood proudly on her own as she spoke to acknowledge a standing ovation at Hastings Racecourse. The day marked "April Friesen Day" at the racetrack.

During the spill, the horses escaped unscathed while jockeys Ismael Mosqueira and Isaias Cardenas were shaken up but not seriously injured.

April Friesen was not as fortunate. She will likely never ride again after having 12-inch titanium rods inserted into her fractured spine and suffering a fractured neck, three broken ribs and a punctured lung.

The horse racing industry gathered like family to help raise money for April's expenses. As word travelled, the Vancouver Canucks, B.C. Lions, Vancouver Canadians, Vancouver Giants and Vancouver Whitecaps stepped up and donated tickets and autographed items for a silent auction for Friesen.

To show further support, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation and Hastings Racecourse, donated $5,000 cash.

Final numbers are not official, but the silent auction raised $17,000; cash donations from caring fans totaled $3,870; a Las Vegas trip raffle resulted in roughly $6,500 and a 50/50 draw added $1,321. Add the gift from Great Canadian of $5,000 and the total is close to $35,000.

"I am so blessed to have such wonderful family, friends and fans," Friesen said. "I want to thank these wonderful, caring people. This is above and beyond anything I ever expected."

The scene at the silent auction on April Friesen Day was wonderful. Fellow jockeys were on hand at the end of the racing card not only to greet people, but also bid on various items as a show of support; horse owners, trainers and backstretch workers were present; the Hastings staff was visible in huge numbers and, more importantly, horse racing fans from all walks of life were placing bids to help Friesen.

"We knew there would be a wonderful response," Hastings Racecourse GM Raj Mutti said. "But the end result was beyond anything we expected."

Howard Blank, Vice President, Communications, Entertainment and Responsible Gambling, Great Canadian Gaming said "We are so proud of our team members, our guests and our entertainment and sport partners who stepped up to assist us all for Friesen".

Live racing resumes at Hastings Racecourse with a Friday Night Live program at 7:00 p.m. and the regular Saturday and Sunday starting times of 1:40 p.m.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE Hastings Racecourse

For further information: For further information: For all media inquiries please contact: Howard Blank, Vice President, Communications, Entertainment and Responsible Gambling, 604-512-6066; For all racetrack related information, please contact: Raj Mutti, Hastings GM, 604-216-5245

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