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Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA)
RTCA WINNER’S CIRCLE NEWSLETTER
May 1993, Volume 7, Number 1
Race Track Chaplaincy of America
PO Box 1924
Galloway, Ohio 43119
Congratulations to the Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association (CHHA) on their Tenth Anniversary.
The Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association celebrated its tenth anniversary in February of 1993. C.H.H.A. was officially incorporated by horseman, Tim Finley, of Columbus, Ohio, on February 15, 1983.
Weldon Stockwell, Field Representative, was asked what those ten years mean. “First,” Stockwell stated, “I feel we have a fairly wide recognition within the harness horse industry now.”
“I feel, second,” he continued, “we have been able to present a witness for Christ without being offensive.”
“From the letters I get,” Stockwell concluded, “we have been able to help some people both spiritually and financially.”
In terms of goals since the inception of C.H.H.A., the organization has tried to enlist 1,000 members. C.H.H.A. has membership, and the organization is designed around ministering to that membership and others on the harness tracks.
The organization has a twenty-five thousand dollar annual budget. This is all derived from contributions. The Field Representative surmises that in those ten years there has been about a quarter of a million dollars in contributions given to the organization.
The C.H.H.A. receives correspondence from as far away as Australia where people are also interested in harness racing. Margaret Bartels of Eaglehawk, Australia writes:
Dear Weldon and Nancy: I think of you both often and give thanks for those lovely couple of days we spent with you almost 4 years ago now. I really enjoy getting the CHHA newsletter. Recently we met Robert Johnston who is also a CHHA member here in Australia. We still have our horses, but haven’t had much luck lately – one lives in hope.”
Closer to home Doris Cregar writes from Stillwater, PA:
“I look forward to getting my CHHA newsletter every month. The scripture and letters from members are great.
My husband, John, son Glenn, and I have 3 horses. We train at the Bloomsburg fairgrounds and race at Pocono Downs in PA. Our favorite horse is “Karen’s Kouch.” She was going to go to the Amish because she had leg problems as a 2 year old. A fellow horseman that had her asked John if he wanted her. We took her and turned her out on the farm for almost a year, also had some vet work done. She raced as a 3 and 4 year old, won 15 races and has a lifetime mark of 1:57:2.
The other owners named her “Karen’s Prayer”, then changed it to “Karen’s Kouch”. She sure is an answer to our prayers and a gift from God to us.”
Ms. Robin Minor of North Lauderdale, FL, a quality engineer with the Dept. of Defense for over 17 years, writes that her husband, DeMier, is an owner/trainer/driver. They train and race at Pompano Park in the winter and Hazel Park in the summer. Robin says she got into racing by marriage, and shares the following:
“My husband took me on our first date (daytime – I was only 14) to a qualifier at Northville Downs. He was in Heaven, and I thought I can’t wait to get home. That was over 20 years ago. I guess it kind of grows on you. When I learned of CHHA I wanted to be in touch with other Christians who were also in harness racing. Most people thaink of horse racing and think the worst. But, we know different. Thanks for keeping me informed and in touch with others like me.”
The Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association has it offices at 1846 Ross Road, Sunbury, Ohio 43074
As of this writing the CHHA is still in existence and as of February 15, 2012 will celebrate an anniversary of 29 years.
The following are excerpts taken from an article, written by Fred J. Noe, titled “Spirit of Christmas All Year” that appeared in the premier magazine for the Standardbred Harness Racing Industry, Hoof Beats, January 2000 edition.
Spirit of Christmas All Year
Around the holiday season it is common, even expected, for thoughts and actions to turn to religious values, fellowship and good will towards all. The problem is that all too often those sentiments fade as the calendar page turns.
There is, however, one group in Harness Racing that has been working nearly 17 years to keep those sentiments alive all year—the Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association.
Last year you may have heard of the CHHA as it solicited contributions for Tom Gantt, whose house burned down. Letters and encouragement brought in thousands of dollars in contributions ranging from $5 to $1,000 for the Gantt family.
That is just one instance of where the CHHA has helped Standardbred horsemen. The CHHA is an organization that was the brainchild of horseman/stockbroker, Tim Finley. Although Finley remains on the Board of Directors, the day-to-day activities are now in the trusted hands of retired Pastor Weldon Stockwell.
If you’ve raced in the Midwest, you have likely seen Weldon, a quiet and unobtrusive man often wearing suspenders, who is a former minister. He sets up his table at numerous racing venues, including the Delaware Blooded Horse Sale, the Buckeye Sale and the Little Brown Jug, where he shares space with the Ohio Harness Horseman’s Association. You may also have seen him at Harrisburg, in Kentucky and anywhere there are horsemen who may need a little help, a little guidance.
It was Weldon’s son Mark, a Standardbred trainer, who introduced Weldon (the one-time horse owner) to Tim Finley. Finley had been a Board member of an organization called the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America, and he was disturbed by the fact that it was primarily a gathering of Thoroughbred people. He decided to start a Standardbred organization.
Weldon offered Tim his support for the fledgling organization and, as these things often go, soon found himself on the Board of the CHHA. “The whole thing has grown on its own from there,” said Weldon.
Whether it is Tim or Weldon at the helm of the CHHA, its mission has been the same: to provide a spiritual and physical support mechanism for the people who make their home in Harness Racing.
The goal of this group is that simple—to send out words and thoughts and actions of encouragement to those in need.
Judging by the participation in the CHHA, there is a strong presence of God throughout Harness Racing, though it is a presence that sometimes seems to get lost amid the hustle and bustle of our lives, including our life in Harness Racing. The Christian Harness Horsemen’s Association enables anyone in the sport who wishes, to come together in an atmosphere of brotherhood and support. If you need assistance, be it monetary or emotional, the CHHA is there to help. Do you seed someone to talk to, a caring ear, a kind word? They are there for that, too. CHHA is a non-denominational group, and it doesn’t cost anything to join. Its members come from all facets of the sport-owners, trainers, drivers, grooms, veterinarians, breeders—everyone in our sport; it exists on a shoestring budget, relying on contributions to keep it afloat.
But keep afloat it has since its incorporation in 1983, where an advertisement in this very magazine brought forth its first members. That membership number has risen to more that 450,with more than 1,200 people contacting the group regularly. Its members come from all over North America and even into Australia.
Weldon has told us that CHHA has three main areas of focus: fellowship among people in the racing business, working with chaplains at racetracks and working with adoption programs, with whom they have a good rapport.
There are two main ways that CHHA stays in touch with Harness people: through its newsletter and through the display Weldon totes from points hither and yon. The newsletter gives members a chance to write about the happenings in their lives. Weldon also includes a little scripture reading to bring some spiritual sunshine into the lives of members.
He thinks it’s good for Harness Racing that people realize you can believe in God and race horses. I couldn’t agree more.
And it has to say something about Racing and about all of us in this sport, when you know that there is a Weldon Stockwell, whose sole purpose is to help horsemen and horsewomen in need.