Annual Harness Race Rally celebrates 50 years of fun and camaraderie

While many things have changed during the last 50 years, the enthusiasm carried by the Friends of Akron Children’s Hospital for their annual Harness Race Rally remains the same … and so does the ticket price.

“Tickets are still $1 each, just like they were when it first started in 1962,” said Linda Churchman, longtime event volunteer and former chairperson. “We kept it the same to create a tangible way for anyone to support the hospital.”

This year marks the 50th year of the event. Held on Aug. 12 at Northfield Park, this year’s race pays tribute to the people and sponsors who, throughout the years, turned the event to a reality. The proceeds will benefit Rehabilitative Services, with a portion earmarked for the hospital’s Annual Fund and the Haslinger Family Center for Pediatric Palliative Care.

Event founder and this year’s chairperson Rosemarie George has high hopes for 2011.

“It’s our aim to raise $100,000,” she said. “That’s a long way from the little more than $5,000 we raised in our first year. I’ve been with the race for 50 hardworking years while hearing the beautiful stories of Akron Children’s Hospital.”

A golden celebration

A special Golden Gala on Aug. 10 at Portage Country Club recognizes event sponsors and past chairpersons, including Goldie Stoller and others.

“My favorite parts of this event are the race and knowing that what we do is for the children at the hospital,” said Stoller. “I know that every aspect of this fundraiser is for a very good cause. And the community recognizes that, too.”

Madeline Bozzelli started helping with the event in 1968 and has served as chairman four times. “It’s more than selling tickets," she said. "I’ve made friendships here that will last a lifetime.”

While volunteers were building friendships, they also were supporting patient care programs at the hospital.

The first Harness Race Rally raised money for air conditioning and heart monitors in the emergency room. Other areas that have benefited from the ticket sales include the neonatal intensive care unit, the Paul and
Carol David Foundation Burn Institute and many other departments throughout Akron Children’s.

Since its beginning, the Harness Race Rally has raised more than $3 million for the hospital.

A golden celebration
Publication: Children's Progress
Issue: Summer 2011

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