The harness industry is gathering behind driver Anthony Coletta who suffered severe injuries in an accident at Harrah's Philadelphia this past Sunday. The fact the industry is getting together with drivers and owners pledging part of their earnings to help pay Coletta's medical bills is admirable and those participating should be applauded.
My question is, why do we wait until disaster strikes to mobilize? I imagine it is human nature to pretend it can't happen because it is easier that way but while these fundraising efforts should be supported, why are we waiting?
The Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industry has a Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund 501(c)(3) organization set up to address the medical and living expenses for those jockeys who are permanently disabled from performing their job duties, riding in races. They raise funds through donations from industry leaders and fans as well as various fundraising events throughout the year across the country to help raise funds for the charity. The question to be asked is why is there no Permanently Disabled Driver/Horsemen Fund (PDHF) for the standardbred sport?
If there was a PDHF, the charity could benefit drivers, trainers, and grooms permanently disabled in racing or training accidents. I don't suggest such a charity would cover all expenses, but by raising funds through a charity, the funds will be there when a driver or someone else is seriously hurt in a racing-related accident and it won't be necessary to suddenly scrounge around looking for financial resources.
I am not suggesting a charity which would cover all/most the medical bills of anyone (except perhaps a groom) as the USTA has for years been trying to get drivers and trainers to take out medical and disability insurance due to the nature of the sport; the primary responsibility for one's well being lies with themselves. However, even the best insurance doesn't cover all expenses and unfortunately, there will always be that person who thinks they will beat the odds and skip insuring themselves. A PDHF would be a charity our seriously wounded participants could turn to in their time of need without having to pass the hat, where popularity may be a factor in determining how much is donated.
The question is is there someone in the industry willing to lead such an endeavor?